Civil Rights Organizations Urge DHS to Extend Temporary Protected Status to Haitian Nationals

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Honorable Elaine C. Duke
Acting Secretary
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528

Dear Acting Secretary Duke,

With the November 23, 2017 deadline for redesignation quickly approaching, we write to urge you to fully extend Haitian Nationals Temporary Protected Status designation for an additional 18 months, as large-scale repatriation or deportation would severely disrupt the struggling nation’s recovery efforts from environmental disasters and public health crises.

As you know, in 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, resulting in an injury toll of 300,000, and more than 316,000 dead or missing , making it one of the deadliest earthquakes in modern history. As a result, President Obama granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitians, allowing them to flee the devastation and untenable living conditions to live and work legally in the United States. In the years since the first TPS was granted, Haiti has continued to struggle to rebuild its infrastructure, improve public health, and develop suitable housing for the 1.5 million people left homeless by the earthquake. The worst cholera epidemic in recent history continues to pose a public health threat to Haiti’s citizenry. This crisis was unfortunately further exacerbated by Hurricanes Matthew, Irma and Maria, all Category 5 storms that completely reversed the little progress made in this tiny nation since the earthquake.

Collectively, these storms caused significant loss of life, prolonged power outages, food and water insecurity, increased susceptibility to communicable and water borne diseases, loss of crops, and millions of dollars in property damage; in addition to the internal displacement of 180,000 people in Haiti.

In response to these natural disasters, the Haitian government has worked closely with the United States and the international community to improve its public health, housing, and agriculture. The Haitian Diaspora, which includes 50,000 law-abiding Haitian TPS holders , is a part of the immediate and long term recovery process. For example, many through their employment here in the U.S. are able to send money back home to their families, thus helping to alleviate their reliance on government. Overall, remittances from TPS holders have been essential in strengthening the Haitian economy, and have also contributed significantly to the U.S. economy.

While the Haitian government continues to rebuild despite many setbacks, terminating TPS for Haitian nationals at this time would be overly burdensome on the country. The Haitian government continues to struggle to find adequate shelter, food, and jobs for its current residents. Adding to that strain by deporting 50,000 people would have disastrous economic effects--as the country is simply not prepared to receive an influx of people. It would also counteract the goals set by the recently passed United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act of 2016, a law focused on increased engagement with Caribbean governments and the Caribbean diaspora community in the United States. In addition, America would experience a loss of GDP, high turnover costs for U.S. businesses, and a significant reduction in Social Security and Medicare contributions as a result of deportation.

It is imperative that DHS acknowledges the ongoing crisis in Haiti, and how deporting 50,000 nationals would disrupt the nation’s delicate path towards recovery, which affects the international community. We urge Secretary Duke to thoughtfully consider these points and extend Temporary Protected Status to Haitian Nationals for an additional 18 months.

Sincerely,

Marc H. Morial
President and CEO
National Urban League

Opal Tometi
Executive Director
Black Alliance for Just Immigration

Derrick Johnson
President and CEO
NAACP

Kristen Clarke
President and Executive Director
Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Sherrilyn Ifill
President and Director-Counsel
NAACP Legal Defense

Rev. Al Sharpton
Founder and President
National Action Network

Vanita Gupta
President and CEO
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Educational Fund Rights

Melanie L. Campbell
President and CEO
National Coalition on Black Civic Participation

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