May 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

DHS expands Temporary Protected Status for Haitians in U.S.

People demonstrate as a trial begins to try to protect Haitians immigrants under the Temporary Protected Status.
People demonstrate as a trial begins to try to protect Haitian immigrants under the Temporary Protected Status from being deported back to Haiti in 2019. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

More than 100,000 Haitians living in the United States will have the chance to receive Temporary Protected Status under a new Biden administration directive announced on Saturday.

Why it matters: Haiti continues to experience political, social and economic unrest with COVID-19 cases on the rise and President Jovenel Moïse's ongoing refusal to step down.

Details: The TPS designation allows Haitians — or individuals without nationality who last resided in Haiti — in the U.S. as of May 21 to apply for the protective status, which will last for 18 months.

  • More than 50,000 Haitians already have the designation from an Obama administration decision after a 2010 earthquake devastated the small nation.

What they're saying: “Haiti is currently experiencing serious security concerns, social unrest, an increase in human rights abuses, crippling poverty, and lack of basic resources, which are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement on Saturday.

  • The Homeland Security Department thinks “persistent effects of the 2010 earthquake have also exacerbated the severity of the extraordinary and temporary conditions in Haiti currently,” Mayorkas said.

The big picture: Though the Trump administration had attempted to end the Obama-era designation, there is some bipartisan support for expanding the protections.

  • Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) co-authored a letter sent to Mayorkas, calling for the continued designation for Haiti.
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