PRESS RELEASE – (WASHINGTON, May 23, CMC) – United States Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly says he has decided to extend for an additional six months the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for undocumented Haitians living in the U.S.
On Monday, Kelly said the extension is effective July 23, 2017 through January 22, 2018.
“After careful review of the current conditions in Haiti and conversations with the Haitian government, I have decided to extend the designation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status for a limited period of six-months,” he said.
“Haiti has made progress across several fronts since the devastating earthquake in 2010, and I’m proud of the role the United States has played during this time in helping our Haitian friends. The Haitian economy continues to recover and grow, and 96 per cent of people displaced by the earthquake and living in internally displaced person camps have left those camps,” he added.
“Even more encouraging is that over 98 per cent of these camps have closed. Also, indicative of Haiti’s success in recovering from the earthquake seven years ago is the Haitian government’s stated plans to rebuild the Haitian President’s residence at the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, and the withdrawal of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti.”
Kelly said he was “particularly encouraged” by representations made to him directly by the Haitian government regarding its “desire to welcome the safe repatriation of Haitian TPS recipients in the near future.
“This six-month extension should allow Haitian TPS recipients living in the United States time to attain travel documents and make other necessary arrangements for their ultimate departure from the United States, and should also provide the Haitian government with the time it needs to prepare for the future repatriation of all current TPS recipients,” Kelly said. “We plan to continue to work closely with the Haitian government, including assisting the government in proactively providing travel documents for its citizens.”
Prior to the expiration of this limited six-month period, Kelly said he will re-evaluate the designation for Haiti and decide anew whether extension, re-designation, or termination is warranted.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) urges Haitian TPS recipients who do not have another immigration status to use the time before January 22, 2018 to “prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States—including proactively seeking travel documentation—or to apply for other immigration benefits for which they may be eligible.”
“I believe there are indications that Haiti – if its recovery from the 2010 earthquake continues at pace – may not warrant further TPS extension past January 2018,” Kelly said. “TPS, as enacted in law, is inherently temporary in nature, and beneficiaries should plan accordingly that this status may finally end after the extension announced today.”
With a decision looming on TPS for 58,000 undocumented Haitians living in the United States, a number of immigration lawyers in the U.S. had urged Haitians worried about deportation to start contingency plans.
At a forum in Miami on Friday, organized by the Haitian Lawyers Association and Haitian Women of Miami, at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex, lawyers and others said it’s time for TPS holders to begin making contingency plans.
Under the USCIS recommendation, TPS holders would have up to six months after the July 22 expiration date on their cards to maintain employment before they would be vulnerable once more for deportation to Haiti.
But immigration lawyers said TPS Haitians should not wait until January to begin making decisions, which means seeking advice from an immigration lawyer now.
Some TPS holders may qualify for a U.S. green card because they are either married to a U.S. citizen or have a child who is a U.S. citizen over the age of 21, but many either don’t know or lack the proper documentation about how they were admitted into the US. In order to obtain a green card, an applicant must have proof that he or she was inspected, admitted or paroled into the United States.