BAJI denounces DHS’ inhumane decision to terminate program for Haitian earthquake survivors

by Nana Brantuo

Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., and 40 organizers for Black immigrants hold a rally in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 15, 2017, to support the extension of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program. The 40 organizers – members of the Black Immigration Network (BIN), Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), Undocublack Network, National TPS Alliance and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders from across the country – convened on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., for a Black-led Day of Action as the Trump administration weighed whether to end TPS for thousands of Haitians and Salvadorans. – Photo: Esther Y. Lee

Washington, D.C. – The Black Alliance for Just Immigration denounces the Department of Homeland Security’s inhumane decision to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nearly 60,000 Haitian immigrants who are firmly rooted in the United States.

On Nov. 20, DHS announced that it would terminate TPS for Haitian nationals effective July 22, 2019. TPS was first granted to Haitian immigrants in 2010 following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated the island, killing 230,000 residents and displacing nearly 3 million.

Conditions on the island were exacerbated by a cholera outbreak caused by United Nations officers and, more recently, a category 5 hurricane. But despite bipartisan calls to renew the program from prominent lawmakers such as Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, the administration determined that conditions in Haiti had improved such that TPS beneficiaries could return to the country.

“We are here and part of the society and have migrated here for decades and decades,” Black Alliance for Just Immigration executive director Opal Tometi said at a Washington, D.C., rally Nov. 15 calling on the administration and lawmakers to continue protections for Haitian Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients. “We brought Black immigrants and Black allies together from across the country to uplift and amplify the voices of Black immigrants,” said Tometi.

“DHS refuses to acknowledge the compounded impact of several environmental disasters along with an ongoing cholera epidemic on the recovery process in Haiti. In the midst of rebuilding and revitalizing its overall infrastructure, large influxes of nationals will disrupt and negatively impact the nation’s path towards recovery,” says Opal Tometi, BAJI’s executive director and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network.

“On the eve of Thanksgiving the administration has decided to contravene basic humanitarianism in favor of an immigration agenda that is drenched in racism, nativism and xenophobia.”

“The TPS program – which has allowed about 320,000 immigrants from 10 countries to live in the United States – is a provisional designation granted to immigrants who cannot return to their homes due to violence, natural disasters or other conditions that prevent them from returning to their home countries,” reports Daily Kos. “Since the early 1990s, the program has provided TPS holders the ability to legally work on a temporary basis. Although the program does not directly provide legal status, many have been in the country for decades due to multiple extensions.”

In the weeks preceding today’s decision on Haitian TPS, several bills seeking to provide relief for TPS beneficiaries were introduced in Congress. BAJI calls on Congress to step in immediately and enact legislation that provides a humane, holistic solution for Haitians and other TPS holders. DHS plans to extend TPS for Salvadorans and all other TPS holders.

“On the eve of Thanksgiving the administration has decided to contravene basic humanitarianism in favor of an immigration agenda that is drenched in racism, nativism and xenophobia.”

The Black Alliance for Just Immigration is the nation’s largest organization representing the nearly 10 million Black immigrants and refugees living in the U.S.

Nana Brantuo can be reached at Bay View staff contributed to this story.