The Temporary Protected Status of Haitian and Central American Immigrants Could Be in Jeopardy

Hundreds of thousands of Haitians and Central Americans who fled violence and natural disasters and were welcomed into the U.S. through the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program are now worried that the Trump administration will soon send them packing.

By only briefly extending the status for Haitians last May, former Department of Homeland Security Secretary and current White House Chief of Staff John Kelly already had signaled that their time here likely is “limited.” Now, deadlines are looming for the administration to decide whether or not to renew TPS for Salvadorans, Hondurans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans.

Based on the Trump administration’s behavior on immigration policy in the past nine months, we should expect this decision to be equally heartless and callous, despite TPS recipients being well–established in the country and thoroughly vetted by public security agencies.

According to the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), citing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, more than 420,000 immigrants in the U.S. have TPS, a status that was created by the 1990 Immigration Act. This act, as NACLA points out, “protects otherwise undocumented immigrants from being deported to countries that the White House may designate as unable to safely repatriate their citizens due to devastation by natural disaster, armed conflict, or other emergency circumstances.”

While TPS is temporary, it has served as a useful diplomatic tool between countries, it has benefitted the U.S. as well as the immigrants who have the protected status, and it has helped in some ways to address historical wrongs committed by U.S. foreign policy operators in the region.

Some immigrants in the TPS program have now resided in the U.S. for decades, established careers and homes here, and raised families. Salvadorans, Hondurans, and Haitians granted TPS have raised 273,000 U.S.–born children, according to NACLA.

By David Boddiger for SPLINTER
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