Photo Credit: Wally Gobetz
Photo Credit: Wally Gobetz

By M. Skye Holly

On Wednesday, Dec, 7, a resolution initiated by New York City Council Member Eugene Mathieu of Brooklyn’s 40th District was passed at City Hall. The resolution will officially petition the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in regard to the plight of Haitian immigrants potentially facing deportation.

The resolution, addressed to the Secretary of Homeland Security aims to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitian immigrants currently living in the United States.  Under its current designation, Haitians who have fled the island nation due to crisis are given eligibility for work authorization. TPS is a major benefit to these Haitians who may not have been able to imagine better lives otherwise.

Mathieu said that he is now at work on a formal package for both the Department of Homeland Security’s Secretary and President Barack Obama. Since TPS is not a permanent status, it has to be renewed. Its current cycle is set to expire in 2017. He has asked for the detaining and deportations of Haitian immigrants to cease, mostly in light of the recent devastation of Hurricane Matthew. For facing deportation who are seeking refuge after the hurricane, Mathieu hopes the federal government will intervene “for a good humanitarian reason” and extend services as soon as possible.

“We believe that Haiti will not be ready to accept the influx of deported people to the country,” Mathieu said later that week.  “If the government decides to deport all of these people, it will be a huge crisis in Haiti. This is a humanitarian emergency,” he said.

Mathieu also noted Haiti’s recent election in November and said that Haiti has been from “crisis to crisis.” Mathieu said that the delayed elections was another unstable situation and that Haiti, not fully recovered from the 2010 earthquake, “needs a stable government in order to move forward.” For that reason, “it makes sense for the United States, in its tradition of alleviating [suffering] to people in need around the world…needs to consider this and renew the TPS for those who held it before and grant TPS to those facing deportation now.”

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