The Trump administration decided to end the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program for nearly 60,000 Haitian immigrants living and working in the U.S. after an earthquake devastated their country in 2010.

Yesterday (November 20), acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Elaine Duke announced that Haitian immigrants with protected status have 18 months to leave the U.S. before the designation is terminated in January 2019. 

TPS is a temporary relief program for countries that have been deemed too dangerous—due to conditions such as natural disasters, armed conflict and epidemics—for nationals to safely return. For beneficiaries, the program provides lawful residency, work authorization and protection from deportation proceedings. Earlier this month, the Trump administration ended the program for 2,500 Nicaraguan immigrants.

In May, the federal government decided to extend the program for Haitian immigrants for six months, saying that the country’s conditions had improved and nationals should start making preparations to return. In yesterday’s announcement, Duke said that Haiti had made “considerable progress” since the 2010 earthquake and was now ready to receive its former residents through an orderly transition:

Based on all available information, including recommendations received as part of an inter-agency consultation process, Acting Secretary Duke determined that those extraordinary but temporary conditions caused by the 2010 earthquake no longer exist. Thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated

But many argue that conditions in Haiti have not improved, and were in fact worsened by a cholera outbreak and a 2016 hurricane. As The New York Times reports, Haiti still largely depends on the money its expatriates send home.

After the DHS announcement, immigrants, advocates and allies criticized the decision, citing the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Haiti and pointing out the Trump administration’s blatant attack on Black immigrants in the United States.

 

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center released this statement about the decision :

Ripping 50,000 Haitians from communities across the United States and sending them back to a country that still hasn’t recovered from the dire conditions that qualified it for TPS in the first place is another heartless decision made by the Trump administration. A mere six months ago, then-DHS Secretary John Kelly decided to extend TPS for Haiti, noting the extensive damage Hurricane Matthew left in its wake and, since then, the island was hit by two more hurricanes—Irma and Maria—further damaging Haiti’s infrastructure and displacing thousands.

This decision is yet another example of the Trump administration politicizing a humanitarian program in an effort to appease its anti-immigrant base and breaking our country’s long-standing commitment to people who have built lives, grown families and lived in the U.S. for years. This administration has no plan in place for the children who are U.S. citizens but may now lose their parents and caregivers to deportation. Deporting mothers and fathers back to a country with bleak living conditions that cannot support their return is stunningly cruel.