The United States will increase Haitian eligibilities for a humanitarian program that provides relief and work permits for deportation to immigrants who cannot return safely to their homelands, the Department of Homeland Security said Saturday.
A new designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) will cover approximately 150,000 Haitians already living in the United States, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez said in a statement.
“After careful consideration, we have determined that we must do what we can to support Haitian citizens in the United States until conditions in Haiti improve so that they can return home safely,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. said, referring to security issues, increasing human rights violations, “crippling poverty and lack of basic resources.”
Democrats, some Republicans and advocates who support immigrants have pushed the government of President Joe Biden to illegally qualify more Haitians in the country for deportation relief. Former Republican President Donald Trump has attempted to end most TPS entries, including those of Haitians, but has been thwarted by federal courts.
The program enables people who are already in the United States to stay and work legally if their homelands are affected by natural disasters, armed conflicts or other events that prevent their safe return. The designations last six to 18 months and can be renewed.
Haitians regained protected status following a devastating 2010 earthquake in the Caribbean island nation. The program currently covers about 54,000 Haitians living in the United States since January 2011, a DHS spokesman said.
The new move will extend the program for those already in it by 18 months and will be eligible for Haitians in the United States from May 21st. It will benefit about 100,000 more people, the spokesman said.
Mayorkas stressed that Haitians arriving in the United States after May 21 are ineligible and can be deported.
Menendez welcomed the move, saying in a statement that it would “avoid destabilizing the island’s fragile recovery efforts.”
The Biden administration has opened the TPS program for an estimated 320,000 Venezuelans living in the United States in March and for several thousand Syrians in January.
About half of Haitian and Venezuelan immigrants in the United States live in Florida, according to the Migration Policy Institute in Washington.
In the coming months, the Biden administration will also make decisions on whether to renew or expand the TPS admission for immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras and five other countries covered by the program.