Biden admin takes ‘urgent and necessary’ step to protect Haitians from deportation

Migrant rights advocates welcomed the Biden administration’s Monday [Dec. 5] extension of legal protections for more than 100,000 Haitian migrants fleeing civil unrest, as well as economic and environmental crises, in their homeland.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Monday redesignated Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and extended the designation through August 3, 2024.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

“We are providing much-needed humanitarian relief to Haitian nationals already present in the United States,” Mayorkas said in a statement. “The conditions in Haiti, including socioeconomic challenges, political instability, and gang violence and crime—aggravated by environmental disaster—compelled the humanitarian relief we are providing today.”

The Department of Homeland Security, however, said that any Haitian national who entered the United States after November 6 is ineligible for TPS and subject to deportation.

Responding to the administration’s move, Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), a leading congressional advocate of TPS redesignation, tweeted that “this decision will save lives.”

Bush was one of 17 House Democrats who last week implored Mayorkas to redesignate and extend TPS for Haitians, who in addition to being subjected to deportations under Title 42—a provision of the Public Health Safety Act first invoked by the Trump administration as the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020—have suffered alleged human rights violations at the borderand while in U.S. detention. Hundreds of human rights groups have also appealed to the administration to protect Haitian migrants.

After initially embracing the policy, the Biden administration announced earlier this year that it would end Title 42 deportations, a move that was blocked in May by U.S. District Robert Summerhays. However, last month, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the administration to end the practice by December 21—which 15 Republican-led states are now trying to prevent.

Thanking all of the activists who pressed the Biden administration to redesignate and extend Haiti’s TPS, the advocacy group Haitian Bridge Alliance tweeted that “this is another example of ‘Anpil men, chay pa lou,'” meaning “many hands make light work” in Creole.

“We acknowledge that there is much work to be done to welcome all people in need of protection with dignity,” the group said, adding that “we also call for the same protection for all deserving of safety, such as nationals from Mauritania, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nepal, Nicaragua, and others.”

Taisha Saintil, Amnesty International USA’s advocacy director for the Americas, said that “today, the U.S. took an important step toward respecting human rights and advancing racial justice in the immigration system.”

“Given the deteriorating security and humanitarian crises that largely prevent migrants from making a safe return to Haiti, the Biden administration’s decision to both extend and redesignate Temporary Protected Status is the right choice,” Saintil continued.

“This move will protect thousands of Haitians already in the U.S. and ensure they have work authorization to live with dignity in their new communities,” she added. “It will also ensure that they get critical protection from forced removal, persecution, and unimaginable violence.”

Vanessa Cárdenas, executive director of the advocacy group America’s Voice, said in a statement that “the TPS redesignation for Haiti is long overdue and worth celebrating.”

Cárdenas added that the redesignation “extends important measures of dignity and stability for Haitians, both those living in the United States and those who will benefit from remittances and a measure of stability in their home country.”

“The deteriorated conditions on the ground in Haiti are a textbook example of why TPS was created in the first place,” she asserted. “We thank the Biden administration for doing the right thing and we hope they will use their TPS authority more aggressively.”

From Common Dreams.