Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today wrote to the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security urging Secretaries Rex Tillerson and John Kelly to extend the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitian nationals currently residing in the United States. The TPS designation is a temporary benefit aimed at providing relief to foreign nationals in the United States and countries devastated by natural disasters. It would allow Haitian nationals, now in the country, to stay in the U.S. for a set period of time while their home nation recovers. Last year, Schumer and Gillibrand secured the original designation because of Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and are fighting to lengthen the TPS because of continued devastation and ongoing cholera epidemic in the area. The TPS for Haitian nationals is set to expire on July 22, 2017.
“Hurricane Matthew caused widespread devastation that affected more than two million people, damaged tens of thousands of homes, schools, and other buildings, destroyed agricultural crops and public water systems, and increased communities’ vulnerability to waterborne diseases, like cholera,” the Senators wrote in their letter. “Temporary Protected Status was created for precisely this reason – to offer temporary, humane protection to foreign nationals living in the U.S. when extraordinary conditions make it impossible for them to return home. We urge you to swiftly consider extending it past the current deadline.”
The TPS designation is implemented through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and is a temporary benefit aimed at providing relief to immigrants residing in the United States who are unable to safely return to their home country. TPS can be granted in the event of an ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster as well as other extraordinary and temporary conditions.
Once granted TPS, individuals may not be deported, can obtain an employment authorization document and may be granted travel authorization. In addition, individuals cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of their immigration status.
The full text of the Senators’ joint letter is included here and below:
The Honorable Rex Tillerson
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW Washington, D.C. 20520
The Honorable John F. Kelly
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
3801 Nebraska Ave, NW Washington, D.C. 20528
Dear Secretaries Tillerson and Kelly
We write to respectfully request that you extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible Haitian nationals residing in the United States. Currently TPS for Haitian nationals is set to expire on July 22, 2017. In light of the continued devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and the ongoing cholera epidemic, we do not believe it is safe or humane to deport non-violent Haitian nationals back to Haiti at this time.
Hurricane Matthew caused widespread devastation that affected more than 2 million people, damaged tens of thousands of homes, schools, and other buildings, destroyed agricultural crops and public water systems, and increased communities’ vulnerability to waterborne diseases, like cholera.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) was created for precisely this reason – to offer temporary, humane protection to foreign nationals living in the U.S. when extraordinary conditions make it impossible for them to return home. We believe the continued widespread damage and destruction in Haiti make these people eligible for continued TPS designation, and we urge you to swiftly consider extending it past the current deadline of July 22, 2017.
We believe this is again the safest route to avoid further burdening the Haitian government in this time of severe distress. Current law already provides strict eligibility criteria to protect our national security, such as excluding criminals from this designation. TPS is not a pathway to citizenship, nor is it a means for bringing over relatives. When the TPS designation of a country is terminated, those foreign nationals revert to the immigration status they held before the designation was granted.
In short, TPS is a temporary, humane, compassionate response that the U.S. can make in addition to all the other assistance we are providing in the region. We must assist the victims of this natural disaster and ongoing epidemic. Thank you for your consideration.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
United States Senator