Citing the extraordinary conditions in crises-ridden Haiti, the Biden administration Monday extended legal protections for Haitians living in the United States while also allowing tens of thousands of undocumented Haitian nationals who recently arrived to also legally live and work in the U.S. on a temporary basis.
It is expected that 100,000 Haitians will benefit from the decision by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Mayorkas extended the Temporary Protected Status, TPS, for Haiti for an additional 18 months, from Feb. 4, 2023 through Aug. 3, 2024, and also re-designated Haiti for TPS. The re-designation will allow Haitian nationals residing in the United States as of Nov. 6, 2022, to apply for TPS through August 3, 2024, so long as they meet all eligibility requirements.
“We are providing much-needed humanitarian relief to Haitian nationals already present in the United States,” said Mayorkas. “The conditions in Haiti, including socioeconomic challenges, political instability, and gang violence and crime — aggravated by environmental disaster — compelled the humanitarian relief we are providing today.”
DHS, however, warned that any Haitian national entering the United States after Nov. 6, 2022, will not eligible for TPS and, like other individuals without a legal basis to remain in the U.S., will be subject to removal.
Mayorkas extended and re-designated Haiti for TPS, DHS said, after consultation with other agencies and careful consideration of the extraordinary and temporary conditions in the Caribbean nation, including its prolonged political crisis, aggravated by last year’s still unsolved assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse; mounting gang violence that is worsening an already dire economic situation; the lack of access to food, water, fuel and healthcare during a resurgence of cholera, and the recent catastrophic earthquakes.
Members of Congress, as well as immigration and Haitian advocates, had called on the administration to re-designate Haiti for the immigration benefit.
Guerline Jozef, co-founder and executive director of Haitian Bridge Alliance, said she welcomed the “much-needed announcement from the Biden administration.”
“We rejoice and celebrate with our Haitian siblings and stand undeterred in solidarity as we continue to work with and for the Haitian and Haitian-American communities. We are grateful for all our partner organizations, many of whom supported the letter led by the Haitian Bridge Alliance calling for the extension and re-designation of TPS for Haiti,” she said.
Jozef said she’s calling for the same protection for all deserving of safety, such as nationals from Mauritania, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and elsewhere.
Taisha Saintil, founding member of Cameroon Advocacy Network and an immigration advocate, said Haitians who are living in the U.S. and are currently eligible for TPS contribute $2.6 billion to the U.S. economy each year, and 81% of them are in the labor force, providing essential services at a time of worker shortages and high inflation.
“This re-designation of TPS allows more Haitians in the U.S. to enroll in the program and contribute their skills and talents to American communities and the American workforce,” she said.
TPS will apply only to those individuals who already have been residing in the U.S. as of Nov. 6 and meet all other requirements. A soon-to-be-published Federal Register notice will explain the eligibility criteria, timelines and procedures necessary for current beneficiaries to re-register and renew Employment Authorization Documents, and for new applicants to submit an initial application under the re-designation and apply for an employment authorization document.