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Trump Administration Eyes End of Temporary Protection Status for Haiti Quake Victims

Immigration privileges granted to legal Haitian immigrants in the wake of the 2010 Haiti earthquake may be revoked within the next few months. Shortly after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, the U.S. added the Caribbean country to its list of “Temporary Protected Status (TPS)” designated countries. TPS grants Haitians temporary relief from immediate deportation as well as work authorization insofar as the status is effective.

President Donald Trump’s appointees, however, are presently planning the termination of TPS for Haitians who entered the country seeking stability after the calamitous event. It’s estimated that revoking Haiti’s TPS status would affect more than 58,000 Haitians currently legally situated and employed in the United States, not to mention the countless undocumented Haitians seeking refuge in the country.

Among the many distraught legal immigrants is Farah Larrieux, a Haitian national who fears that with the Trump administration’s current crackdown on nearly all forms of immigration (legal, documented, or otherwise), she and the many others who came to the U.S. to find some semblance of normalcy after the earthquake are next on the deportation block.

Larrieux came to Florida in 2005, got a driver’s license, went to school, was hired, started her own company, married, divorced, and eventually had her green card application rejected. Her stay has essentially been a “rebirth” for her, as she calls it.

Having already settled down and gone through the ropes and hoops of American life, Larrieux began to call Florida her home, making the new immigration policies emphatically rough. Her extended immigration benefits were a lifesaver, but immigration officials argue that Haiti is no longer in the condition it was after the 2010 earthquake. For that reason, its citizens no longer need the protection from deportation handed to them years prior.

President Donald Trump’s acting Director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, James McCament, finds that Haiti’s poverty, health, infrastructure, and political maladies no longer qualify the country as being in crisis. Thus, it’s time to revoke their extended immigration benefits.

In a memo justifying his recommendation to end the TPS published on April 10, he states, “Those myriad problems remaining in Haiti are longstanding problems which have existed for many years before the 2010 disaster.”

The Trump administration has already begun making moves towards this end. A USCIS policy chief has been reported to persistently inquire on the criminal activity of Haitians under TPS—presumably to invoke the provision that TPS beneficiaries with a criminal history cannot continue staying in the country. She was also said to have been inspecting how Haitian immigrants have been using public benefits.

Sharon Scheidhauer, spokesperson for USCIS, has refused to discuss “pre-decision documents,” on the basis that it is not common practice to do so.

Should the administration’s plans push through, states along the U.S.-Mexico border, such as Texas, could see an increase of immigration arrests, what with Haitians having a history of entering the country from Mexico.

If you, or a loved one, are a Haitian immigrant looking to learn about your rights, talk to the immigration law experts of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today to learn more from immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.

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