The United States has announced that it would increase its support for Haitians and prolong their temporary residency status.
According to the Biden administration, the country will provide temporary legal status to more Haitians currently residing in the United States, citing unsafe circumstances in their home country as the reason for this recent decision.
As the Department of Homeland Security confirmed, Haitians already present in the US may petition for Temporary Protected Status, allowing them to remain inside the US borders until August 3, 2024.
A tendency of reducing safeguards for people already in the United States has been reversed by the Biden administration via the extension of temporary residency for various nations and the expansion or introduction of temporary status for people from Haiti, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Myanmar, Cameroon, and Venezuela. In the case of nations hit by natural catastrophes or civil unrest, TPS, which usually includes work permission, may be prolonged for up to 18 months.
“The conditions in Haiti, including socioeconomic challenges, political instability, and gang violence and crime — aggravated by environmental disaster — compelled the humanitarian relief we are providing today,” commented Alejandro Mayorkas, Homeland Security Secretary.
Since President Jovenel Moese was killed in July 2021, gangs in Haiti have become more strong and have been more bold in their assaults. Moreover, more children are dying from cholera and starvation as the disease spreads throughout the nation.
Thousands have fled the anarchy in Haiti for safer shores in neighbouring countries including the United States. After over 16,000 mostly Haitian migrants tented in the little town of Del Rio back in September 2021, the United States airlifted many of them back home. The government invoked a provision from the Trump period that bars asylum claims on the basis of limiting the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The DHS did not provide an estimate for the number of Haitians who would benefit from the extension. After the tragic quake that struck Haiti in 2010, around 40,000 people were awarded TPS in 2011. This protection was renewed last month until June 30, 2024. On Monday, the government extended Temporary Protected Status for another 3,200 people for another 18 months.
As the situation in Haiti has worsened, deportations there have decreased. According to Witness at the Border, a non-profit that monitors expulsions, there had been no repatriation flights to Haiti since September 6.
Authorities warned that any Haitians entering the United States after the announcement would not be qualified for TPS, but this may not deter many, as the percentage of Haitians apprehended by U.S. officials near the Mexican frontier has increased every month, reaching over 6,700 last October.
According to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has been advocating for an expansion of the status, the recent statement would make refugee residency available to some over 100,000 Haitians, in light of Haiti’s ongoing harsh circumstances and worsening political turmoil.
The Biden administration was applauded by activists for the recent decision. Guerline Jozef, executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, declared:
“We rejoice and celebrate with our Haitian siblings and stand undeterred in solidarity as we continue to work with and for the Haitian and Haitian-American communities.”
Nearly 1 million individuals are qualified for TPS under Biden, more than twice the number under the Trump administration, according to the Cato Institute.