NEW YORK – Haitian advocates are praising a decision by the Department of Homeland Security to extend Temporary Protective Status to thousands of Haitians who had been living in the United States.

Secretary Napolitano also redesignated Haiti for TPS, advancing the eligibility date by a year, meaning that eligible Haitians who have continuously lived in the U.S. since January 12, 2011 may also apply for TPS. This will enable thousands of post-quake arrivals, many evacuated by U.S. forces, to apply for TPS and work permits.
The Administration deserves thanks for these timely and generous decisions.

“We applaud DHS’s decision both to extend the timing of TPS and to broaden the scope of people who qualify for it. In the chaotic days following the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, said Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center. “While DHS quickly designated TPS status for those Haitians residing in the U.S. at the time of the earthquake, many others who came to the U.S. within days or weeks of the disaster were ineligible for TPS, but were also unable to return home. “

Giovagnoli said that the announcement addresses these problems and recognizes the extraordinary need for a compassionate and humane response to the devastation in Haiti.

In a stakeholder’s call this morning, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Director Alejandro Mayorkas said application details will be announced shortly. In a question, Haitian Women of Miami Executive Director Marleine Bastien thanked him and DHS counselor John Sandweg but asked when the Administration will also create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program, like the ongoing Cuban program, to start paroling beneficiaries of approved immigrant visa petitions now on a years-long wait list in Haiti.

Creating such a program or starting to parole DHS-approved Haitian beneficiaries, to reunite families and help Haiti recover by generating a significant remittance flow, remains a key Haitian American community goal on which IJDH has led the way. It is supported by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Philadelphia’s city council, U.S. senators and representatives from both parties, ten major editorial boards and many others.

Advocates nationwide who joined IJDH in urging TPS extension and redesignation deserve recognition including advocates at Catholic Charities Legal Services in Miami, Washington, and New York; at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute; and at other agencies and pro bono firms. This was a truly joint effort.

At least two immigration goals remain: the parole of Haitian approved beneficiaries and stopping resumed removals of persons with underlying criminal convictions. As of November 1, 2010, there were 102,193 approved beneficiaries on a wait list in Haiti of up to 11 years, of whom for example 16,216 — the minor children and spouses of legal permanent residents – have an average wait time of four years.

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