Attorney General Maura Healey today joined with State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry in urging the Department of Homeland Security to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitian nationals in Massachusetts.
The letter sent today to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly highlights that more than 50,000 Haitians remain in the United States while the country continues to rebuild after the 2010 earthquake. The Department of Homeland Security has previously extended TPS because of ongoing environmental and public health crises, and must decide whether to extend the designation before May 23. According to current estimates, Massachusetts has the third-largest population of Haitians behind Florida and New York.
“The earthquake in Haiti was one of the largest natural disasters and humanitarian crises of our time, and it is vital that we extend TPS status to support Haitians in Massachusetts and across the country,” said AG Healey. “Today I join Senator Dorcena Forry in working to ensure that families and individuals can stay in the United States while Haiti continues to rebuild and recover. We urge the Department of Homeland Security to extend this designation.”
“Many families and individuals in our state will be directly impacted if TPS does not get extended for Haitian nationals,” said Senator Dorcena Forry. “Haiti has been hit by hurricane after hurricane and suffered through the largest earthquake in its history. This is why we are calling on Secretary Kelly to recognize the current unstable conditions in Haiti and to renew the designation,” concluded Senator Dorcena Forry.
When conditions in a foreign country temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately, the Department of Homeland Security may designate TPS to nationals from that country who are present in the United States. Once designated, nationals may apply to live and work legally in the United States. The TPS designation lasts no more than 18 months, at which point DHS can decide whether to extend the program. TPS beneficiaries must reapply for the status every single time that the designation is extended. Strict recertification criteria apply, including that all beneficiaries remain law-abiding.
The TPS designation was granted to Haitians after the January 2010 earthquake that took over 200,000 lives and displaced more than 1.5 million people, with an estimated 50,000 people still living in displaced person camps today. Following the earthquake, a large cholera outbreak and the Zika virus have also strained Haiti’s medical system, which is unable to address these public health crises.
Today’s letter states that the TPS designation has enabled Haitian immigrants to work in their communities while continuing to pay taxes. This not only benefits local communities, but also supports Haiti’s re-development through remittance and other investments sent back to the country.
The letter calls on Secretary Kelly and the Department of Homeland Security to extend this designation before the deadline of May 23, 60 days prior to when the program is set to expire on July 22.
To read the letter, click here.