Fifty thousand Haitian nationals are facing the possibility of deportation as early as January 2018, if the Trump administration decides to forego an extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti.

Over the past several weeks, elected officials and community leaders from the Haitian community have banded together to call on the Trump administration to extend Haiti’s TPS designation.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s current 18-month TPS designation, which expires July 22, was originally put in place under former president Barack Obama following the 2010 earthquake.

“The possibility of ending legal protections for tens of thousands of Haitian New Yorkers, and potentially removing them to a country that lacks adequate housing or health care, would be tragic for both the individuals affected and their family members,” the New York Bar Association said in a statement. ” As many Haitians have resided in New York for close to a decade with TPS status, they have started families, created strong ties in their communities, and become valued employees and business owners.”

Since 2010, a series of natural, political and economic disasters have taken place in Haiti, bolstering claims from advocates that the country is in no situation to receive an influx of people.

“Haiti is still recovering from devastating natural disasters that have taken a toll far beyond its borders,” said Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre. “President Obama granted Haitian immigrants temporary protection in this time of dire need, and the Trump administration’s efforts to withdraw this protection is just one more example of its reprehensible anti-immigrant policies. We can’t and won’t stand by in the face of these injustices.”

Proponents for the extension argue this is a latest attack on immigrants from the current president, who during is campaign lobbied under an “American First” slogan.

“This is part of an unfortunate continuation of then-Candidate Trump and now the Trump Administration’s efforts to promote a false stereotype of the criminality of immigrants as evidenced by the creation of the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office (VOICE) at the Department of Homeland Security,” the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chairman Cedric Richmond, said in a statement.

“The Administration has cast immigrants as drug dealers, sexual predators, and terrorists who are a drain on our society. However, the fact is that immigrants are actually less likely to commit crimes than non-immigrants and higher immigration rates are associated with lower crime rates. Moreover, immigrants of all backgrounds contribute to our economy.”

DHS announced in April the creation of the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) office within the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, whose mission is to help families that have been the victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.

“All crime is terrible, but these victims are unique — and too often ignored,” John F. Kelly, the secretary of Homeland Security said during a press conference. “These are casualties of crimes that should never have taken place because the people who victimized them oftentimes should not have been in the country in the first place.”

Despite evidence that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes, many legislators “succumb to their fears and prejudices” about they “imagine immigrants to be,” said the authors of “The Criminalization of Immigration in the United States.  “As a result, far too many immigration policies are drafted on the basis of stereotypes rather than substance.”

In December 2016, Brooklyn Council Member Mathieu Eugene sponsored a resolution urging the federal government to extend Haiti TPS, and in March of this year he launched a formal petition to garner support for the extension.

“Deporting Haitians at this moment would send thousands back to a country still struggling to recover from Hurricane Matthew, the cholera epidemic, and the resulting insecurity felt across the country,” the New York Bar Association said. “The recommendation by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that conditions have improved enough to end the TPS of Haitians is premature and not grounded in fact. Extending Haiti’s TPS designation is the humane and appropriate course of action.”

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