US ending temporary permits for almost 60,000 Haitians
Washington: The Trump administration has said it is ending a temporary residency permit program that has allowed almost 60,000 citizens from Haiti to live and work in the United States since a 2010 powerful earthquake shook the Caribbean nation.
The Homeland Security Department said conditions in Haiti have improved significantly, so the benefit will be extended one last time until July 2019 to give Haitians time to prepare to return home.
"Since the 2010 earthquake, the number of displaced people in Haiti has decreased by 97 percent," the department said in a press release. "Haiti is able to safely receive traditional levels of returned citizens."
Advocates and members of Congress from both parties had asked the Trump administration for an 18-month extension of the program, known as Temporary Protected Status. Haitian President Jovenel Moise's government also requested the extension. Rony Ponthieux, a 49-year-old Haitian nurse with temporary residency who has lived in Miami since 1999, told The Associated Press, "This isn't over, this is time we get to fight for renewal, not to pack our bags." She has a daughter and a son born in the United States and another son in Port- au-Prince.
"We need to push Washington to provide a legal status for us with TPS," Ponthieux said. "This is anti-immigrant policy."
Advocates for Haitians quickly criticized the decision, arguing the conditions in the island nation haven't improved nearly enough for Haitians to be deported.
Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican, expressed "strong opposition" to the measure and urged the administration to reconsider.
"Forcing them to leave the United States would be detrimental," he said in a press release. "Almost eight years later, Haiti remains in total disarray and still requires much rebuilding."