On Saturday (May 22), the Biden administration announced it will extend deportation protections and work permits for 54,000 Haitian immigrants living in the United States with Temporary Protected Status (TPS). They will also allow hundreds of thousands of other eligible Haitians to request relief.
According to CBS News, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said he will extend the TPS designation for Haiti by 18 months, which will allow current recipients to renew their protections. Mayorkas also opened the program to new applicants, allowing eligible Haitian immigrants to apply for Temporary Protected Status as long as they arrived in the U.S. by May 21.
"Haiti is currently experiencing serious security concerns, social unrest, an increase in human rights abuses, crippling poverty, and lack of basic resources, which are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic," Mayorkas said, according to CBS. "After careful consideration, we determined that we must do what we can to support Haitian nationals in the United States until conditions in Haiti improve so they may safely return home."
New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez said the expansion eligibility decision for the Haiti TPS program could benefit approximately 150,000 Haitian immigrants, including 100,000 potential new applicants.
"As Haiti passes through an acute political and security crisis and faces enduring humanitarian challenges, this decision provides urgently needed protections for eligible Haitians in the United States," Menendez said in a statement. "The last thing our country should be doing is forcing an entire community in the U.S. to decide between packing up their lives and tearing their families apart by self-deporting, or becoming undocumented and forced into the shadows of our society."
The Trump administration sought to end Temporary Protected Status for Haitian immigrants. U.S. law allows for the DHS secretaries to grant TPS to immigrants whose home countries are plagued by armed conflict, dealing with an epidemic or recovering from natural disasters.
TPS for Haiti was first designated by the Obama administration in 2010 following the deadly earthquake that heavily damaged the country that year. The program was set to end this fall unless a reversal of the Trump termination efforts happened.