By Vania Andre
Over the past year, organizers in the Haitian community have made a concerted effort to arm vulnerable members of the community with information about their rights as immigrants. Press conferences were held, marches were organized and know your rights forums were planned in conjunction with the city. These efforts were made to prepare the community for the days to come if and when the Trump administration decided to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nearly 60,000 Haitians across the country.
Many in the community were misguided into thinking that Trump would provide solutions to their problems, or ignored the pending doom he would inflict, as though the Haitian community would be immune to his catastrophic influence. Instead, efforts were made at the 11th hour to help stave off a fate that had already been sealed the day Trump took his oath of office.
That day has come and gone, and while TPS has quietly faded out of news headlines, the community is still diligently working behind the scenes to prepare TPS recipients for the year ahead. Part of that preparation includes making sure current TPS recipients re-registering for the possibility to maintain their status through the the program’s termination date of July 22, 2019. While the re-registration period offers a glimpse of hope for some of the thousands of people facing expulsion in little over a year, history shows that too often people wait until the last minute to get their affairs in order.
The Haitian community does not have the luxury to sit idly by as the deadline draws near. At the same time, sometimes action is scarier than inaction for immigrants.
We have to remember that like so many other immigrant communities, those who are impacted the most by separatist and anti-immigrant policies, are typically the ones who rarely show up when called to action.
They don’t show up because they’re working 2 or 3 jobs to provide for their families.
They don’t show up because they’re concerned about placing themselves in situations that may make them easy targets for immigration officials.
They don’t show up because they’re afraid and ashamed of the stigma this current administration has placed on being an immigrant in a country of immigrants.
They don’t show up because of language barriers.
Their absence makes the presence of those who have the power to speak up and take action that much more important.
So for the children, cousins, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, coworkers and allies of those with TPS, take that extra step to make sure they’ve done their part in just maybe, increasing their chances of staying in the U.S. past the deadline.
All applicants must submit Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status. Applicants may also request an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by submitting a completed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, at the time of filing Form I-821, or separately at a later date. Both forms are free for download on USCIS’ website at uscis.gov/tps.