On Saturday, May 22, the Department of Homeland Security announced a new designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals living in the United States. In response, UUSC’s Vice President and Chief Program Officer Rachel Gore Freed issued the following statement:
“This decision is long-overdue and will be life-saving. We celebrate this new designation, which will mean temporary relief for more than 150,000 people who would otherwise be at risk of deportation to dangerous conditions in the midst of a pandemic. Haiti is currently experiencing a political upheaval due to the increasingly authoritarian practices of President Jovenal Moïse. U.S. policy has for too long abetted his actions. This move to ensure people currently on U.S. soil will not be removed to the clutches of their persecutors is plainly a positive step.
Nothing about this victory happened on its own. It is entirely owing to the work of Black and directly affected immigrant leaders with the Haitian Bridge Alliance, the UndocuBlack Network, and others who kept this issue on the front burner and refused to look away. Their persistence to push for Haitian TPS grounds us as we celebrate this win today.
This decision also underscores how much power the executive branch has to extend relief to immigrants when it finds the political will to do so. The Biden administration must not stop here. There are many other countries with an equally urgent need for a new TPS designation, including Cameroon, Mauritania, the Bahamas, and the Northern Triangle countries of Central America, where two devastating hurricanes struck the region in a one-week period late last year.
While we welcome and applaud the new TPS designation, we also recognize that it only provides relief to Haitian nationals present in the U.S. on May 21. It therefore does nothing for Haitian asylum-seekers who have been and continue to be denied their lawful asylum rights and expelled under Title 42. In line with the recommendations of our partners the UndocuBlack Network, we call for an immediate end of the Title 42 policy, a full restoration of asylum at the U.S. border, and parole for Haititan refugees. The same deadly conditions that justify the need for TPS must preclude the removal of Haitian asylum-seekers to danger.
Finally, a new TPS designation, while much-needed, cannot provide the long-term stability and safety that TPS holders deserve. This is their home and they deserve to be recognized as permanent residents. We join our partners the National TPS Alliance in calling on the U.S. Congress to swiftly enact a path to citizenship for TPS holders.”
Photo Credit: iStock – Pawel Gual