MIAMI (CBSMiami) –Haitian immigrants who have been in the U.S. under a Temporary Protected Status program are getting another sixth months in the states but their future is up in the air.
The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement Monday on the matter.
“After careful review of the current conditions in Haiti and conversations with the Haitian government, I have decided to extend the designation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status for a limited period of six-months,” said Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
The department said they feel encouraged by what they say is Haiti’s progress since an earthquake that devastated the country back on January 12, 2010.
“The Haitian economy continues to recover and grow, and 96 percent of people displaced by the earthquake and living in internally displaced person camps have left those camps. Even more encouraging is that over 98 percent of these camps have closed. Also indicative of Haiti’s success in recovering from the earthquake seven years ago is the Haitian government’s stated plans to rebuild the Haitian President’s residence at the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, and the withdrawal of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti,” said Kelly.
It’s a decision Congresswoman Frederica Wilson does not agree with. Wilson along with other lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats, had been fighting for an 18-month extension for those covered under TPS.
Wilson has extended a personal invitation to DHS Secretary Kelly to travel with her to Haiti so he could see in person why sending the more than 50,000 Haitians back is what she calls “unconscionable.”
“We just can’t deport people back to those conditions. Tent cities still remain from the earthquake,” she told our news partners at the Miami Herald.
“I’m really scared. I don’t know who is going to take care of me if my mom is gone and I don’t want nobody to take me,” said 8-year-old Tanisha.
Tanisha, a U.S. citizen, is terrified that her mom might be deported to Haiti.
“It makes my heart broke, for that I don’t feel good,” said Gerdine Versannes, a single mother and taxpayer who works at the Fontainebleau.”
A lot of parents who are living here are under a lot of stress and anxiety that they might be forced to go back to Haiti and be separated from their loved ones.
“What can I do with my child born here? I can’t do nothing,” Versannes said.
The department said the Haitian government has agreed to welcome TPS recipients back into the country in the near future and that the extension is meant for Haitians under the protected status to make arrangements to return back to Haiti.
“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,” said Secretary Kelly.
The extension runs from July 23, 2017, through January 22, 2018. After that, it’s up to the department to stick to that date or extend it. Secretary Kelly plans to re-evaluate the situation and decide whether another extension, re-designation or termination is needed.