After years of being shielded from deportation from the United States while their disaster-prone country continues to recover from its devastating 2010 earthquake, tens of thousands of Haitians will now lose that safeguard.
The special deportation protection known as Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, will be revoked for at least 50,000 Haitians living and working in Miami and across the U.S.
The protection will expire July 22, 2019, giving Haitians living in the U.S. under TPS an 18-month window to go back to their struggling homeland or legalize their status in the United States. At the end of the period, Haitians will return to the immigration status they previously held, leaving them facing possible detention and deportation.
The decision comes 14 days after DHS announced it was terminating TPS for 2,500 Nicaraguans and delaying a decision for 57,000 Hondurans, which automatically gave them a six-month extension after their current status expires in January.
The announcement, while pleasing to immigration hardliners who argue that the provision was never meant to be permanent, deals a hard blow to longtime Haitian and immigration advocates. For months they have lobbied the Trump administration to extend the status for at least 18 months. It had been set to expire Jan. 22.
"Haiti is not ready to absorb 58,000," said Marleine Bastien, a South Florida Haitian activist who has pushed for at least an 18 month extension of TPS. "It's going to be a disaster for the 58,000 families in the U.S. and a disaster for Haiti. Clearly they are not making decisions based on facts on the ground, but rather politics. This is purely unacceptable."