WASHINGTON, United States (CMC) — Haiti has formally written to the United States Government seeking an extension of the temporary protected status (TPS) for its nationals residing in the North American country.
The request, coming seven years after the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country was devastated by an earthquake, is contained in a letter sent to the Department of Homeland Security last Friday.
Port au Prince said the island has not fully recovered from the 2010 earthquake that killed an estimated 230,000 people and left more than a million others homeless. In addition, Haiti has pointed to the extensive damage caused by the passage of two hurricanes in recent years.
Haiti estimates that at least 60,000 of its nationals are living in the United States under the TPS and that a visit to the island “would offer you (an) insight on the challenges that we continue to face,” Haitian Ambassador to the United States Paul Altidor wrote to Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke.
“The detrimental impacts of the recent hurricanes have complicated our ability to recover from the 2010 earthquake … resulting in major disruptions of living conditions in the short term,” he added. A TPS designation grants a temporary immigration benefit to certain nationals of designated countries, allowing them to live and work in the US for a limited time period. TPS is typically granted to citizens of developing countries affected by natural disasters.
In May, the then DHS Secretary, John Kelly, approved a six-month extension of TPS for the Haitian refugees, the fifth such extension since the original designation following the earthquake.
Kelly urged Haitians living in the US without another immigration status other than TPS to “prepare for and arrange their departure” before the revised expiration on January 22, 2018.
“This six-month extension should allow Haitian TPS recipients living in the United States time to attain travel documents and make other necessary arrangements for their ultimate departure from the United States, and should also provide the Haitian government with the time it needs to prepare for the future repatriation of all current TPS recipients,” he said in a statement announcing the extension.
But the Jovenel Moise administration says it is unable to handle the re-repatriation of its citizens, largely because of damage and flooding caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The DHS is expected to make a decision on TPS for Hatians in November.