TPS extension: Biden administration protects Haitians from deportation – The Journal News

Temporary Protected Status has been extended to Haitian nationals living in the U.S., Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced Saturday.
 The announcement could impact tens of thousands of people  of Haitian descent living here, including many in Spring Valley, a village with deep ties to the Caribbean nation.
Mayorkas said the extension would allow Haitians currently residing in the United States as of May 21, 2021, to file initial applications for TPS, “so long as they meet eligibility requirements.”
The extension means Haitians here can stay and work for 18 months.
TPS was first granted after the January 2010 earthquake. The Caribbean nation has suffered various natural disasters and political strife since and remains under a U.S. State Department “Do not travel” advisory with the risk of  kidnapping, crime, civil unrest and COVID-19 cited.
TPS is granted to allow people living in the U.S. to stay here and work if their home country  is experiencing ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or “extraordinary and temporary conditions.” 
U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones, whose 17th District includes the village of Spring Valley and its large Haitian community, was among those advocating for the extension.
”I am proud that the Biden Administration has heeded my call to redesignate Haiti for TPS,” Jones said Saturday. “At a time when Haiti is in the midst of a once-in-a-generation humanitarian crisis, this redesignation will save lives.”
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer lauded the announcement via Twitter: “I’ve been fighting for this, and I’m so proud the Biden administration is taking action,” the New York Democrat said. “This will protect so many in the Haitian community in New York and across the country.”
The change could have a huge impact on the densely populated village in Ramapo, where ties to Haiti stretch generations and run so deep that Haitian presidents have visited and the annual Haitian Unity Day, which takes place Sunday, draws thousands to the village.
The Haitian community in Rockland was put front-and-center during the COVID pandemic, community leaders said.
Many Haitians in New York work in direct-care services and in health care, according to leaders of Konbit Neg Lakay, a nonprofit that supports the Haitian diaspora in Spring Valley. 
That put these essential workers at high risk for the virus but also provided key education and vaccination efforts by such community groups as the Haitian American Nurses Association.
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“A lot of my people died of the virus,” said Renold Julien, executive director of Konbit Neg Lakay, citing a large Haitian representation in essential worker fields. “While other people were home, we had no choice, we were facing the virus. My community has paid the price.”
Various human rights groups had been advocating for TPS renewal for Haiti and other countries that continue to face unrest. 
“There’s a lot of turmoil in Haiti right now,” Julien said. “I think this the reason that TPS was established, to help individuals from troubled countries like Haiti.” 
But Julien said the extension is just the first step. He called on President Biden to offer a pathway to permanent residency for Haitians here.
“They are people who have been paying taxes, some of them already graduated from college. All he has to do is allow them to apply” for a Green Card.
“The Biden Administration’s decision to redesignate Haiti for TPS rescues tens of thousands of people from lives lived in limbo,” Jones said on Saturday. “It restores certainty and safety to the roughly 50,000 Haitians in the U.S. unsure of their TPS status thanks to the Trump Administration’s cruel manipulation of our broken immigration system. And it enables every eligible Haitian in the U.S. — thousands of additional people — to apply for TPS and remain safe in their communities.”
The Trump administration first signaled in 2017 that it would be looking closely at ending TPS – after then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016 had indicated he would let TPS continue for Haitian nationals. In 2018, Trump was reported as calling Haiti, El Salvador and certain African nations “sh—hole countries.”
In January 2018, a Federal Register notice announced termination of Haiti’s TPS designation effective July 22, 2019. But that’s been delayed amid ongoing lawsuits.
The Biden administration announced late last month that it was reviewing whether to extend humanitarian protections under TPS to Haitians and other foreign nationals.
Biden on the campaign trail in 2020 had supported the extension of TPS for Haitians. 
 “I hope this redesignation will be the first of many vital steps the Biden Administration takes in response to the dire situation in Haiti — including welcoming people unjustly removed to Haiti back to their communities here in the United States, like my neighbor and constituent, Paul Pierrilus.”
Pierrilus, who had lived in Spring Valley since age 5, was picked up in the dwindling days of the Trump administration when deportations appeared to ramp up, especially to countries with large Black populations. 
After advocacy by Jones and others, Pierrilus’ trip to Haiti was interceded as he walked, shackled, toward the plane. But he remained in custody. Then in early February he was sent to Haiti.
Pierrilus had been permitted to stay and work in the U.S. under an order of supervision since around 2006. 
Pierrilus, now 40, was born in Saint Martin, a French territory in the Leeward Islands. He wasn’t automatically a citizen because his parents weren’t French nationals, but were citizens of Haiti at the time. He also didn’t automatically inherit Haitian citizenship through his parents.
His whereabouts remain unclear.
According to the Federal Registry, the TPS order for Haiti can apply to people who have no nationality but had resided in Haiti. Pierrilus had never been to Haiti before his deportation. 
Nancy Cutler writes about People & Policy. Click here for her latest stories. Follow her on Twitter at @nancyrockland


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