Update: According to the Miami Herald, Haitians will lose their Temporary Protected Status in July 2019, giving recipients 18 months to obtain legal status or leave the United States.
By Thanksgiving, the Trump administration must decide whether to extend Temporary Protected Status for Haitians, part of a series of choices that will determine the fates of more than 300,000 people in the United States. The coming decision on Haiti will affect Florida more than any other state.
Temporary Protected Status helps people who arrive in the U.S. fleeing war or natural disaster in their native nations. While they have the status, recipients can’t be deported, and they’re allowed to work legally.
As of January, the vast majority of the 320,000 TPS recipients were from El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti, according to estimates by the Center for Migration Studies of New York, a think tank that studies immigration. They also include people from Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
On November 6, the administration revoked the protection for Nicaraguan immigrants, giving recipients until January 2019 to make other plans. At the same time, it put off a decision on protection for Hondurans, a much larger group in the country, for six months.
Ending TPS for Nicaraguans drew criticism from Florida lawmakers, who represent a state many TPS recipients call home.
Florida has about 44,800 residents under TPS protection, the CMS estimates. Only California has more. Florida also has the third-highest TPS population per capita.
And when it comes to Haiti, the Trump administration’s choice is a distinct Florida issue. Of about 50,000 Haitians who have been granted TPS since a 2010 earthquake shook the nation, 32,500 live in Florida. Gov. Rick Scott pressed Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to let them stay back in May. In a Miami Herald op-ed Friday, Sen. Marco Rubio said removing TPS would “have an immediate and serious impact on individuals, families, and communities in Florida.”
The CMS estimates that Florida’s 32,500 Haitians with TPS also have 18,800 U.S.-born children. The liberal think tank Center for American Progress asserts that those kids “would either face separation from their parents or be forced to relocate to a country foreign to them.”