Over 50,000 people from Haiti who have made their lives in the US Forced to Return to Unsafe Conditions
New York City – Immigrants, Haitian community and faith groups, Congress member Nydia Velasqueza and labor and community allies rallied today in downtown Manhattan to protest the cruel and unnecessary decision issued on Monday night from the Department of Homeland Security to terminate Temporary Protected Status for more than 50,000 people from Haiti. These immigrants have lived in the US legally for years, some for decades, contributing greatly to their communities here in the US as well as to their communities in the Caribbean.
New Yorkers of Haitian descent, other TPS holders and their allies spoke out against this heartless move.
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez:
“Facing the aftermath of a massive earthquake and cholera outbreak, the Trump Administration’s decision to deport 50,000 Haitians is unconscionable. We must pass the American Promise Act to protect them from deportation and establish a path to citizenship.”
Hector Figueroa, President 32BJ SEIU:
“DHS’s decision to terminate TPS for 50,000 Haitians living in the U.S. was spawned from a deep-seated anti-immigrant position, not from a sound policy evaluation of the conditions faced by Haitians abroad or TPS holders’ contributions here in the US. It is more important than ever that Congress provide a more permanent solution by passing one of the many TPS bills that have already been introduced this year.”
George Gresham, President, 1199SEIU:
“The position of the administration, that conditions in Haiti have improved to the point that TPS is no longer needed, is contradicted by extensive evidence on the ground. President Trump is doing little more here than tossing red meat to his base. We in healthcare know up close and personal the devastating impact deporting Haitians will have in our sphere, and the caregiving our members provide.”
Bitta Mostofi, Acting Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs:
“This is another dark day under the Trump Administration. The White House’s decision to end TPS for 50,000 Haitians on the eve of Thanksgiving is a cold affront to their families, including the 8,000 children in NYC with a parent who is protected under this policy. Thousands of Haitian New Yorkers have relied on TPS since the devastating 2010 earthquake to rebuild their lives. They have taken root in our communities, participated in civic life, and contributed to our economies. New York City will continue to fight this decision and push for a legislative solution in Congress. Any New Yorker with immigration legal questions, can call 311 and ask for ‘ActionNYC’ to be connected to free, confidential help.”
Javier H. Valdés, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York:
“Yesterday’s decision, which completely disregards the country conditions in Haiti, marks yet another demonstration of this administration’s white supremacist roots. It’s clear that DHS is intent on using every tool at its disposal to put immigrant families at risk. We stand with our Haitian brothers and sisters and demand Congress act immediately to protect all TPS holders and enable them to adjust their status.”
Steven Choi, Executive Director for The New York Immigration Coalition:
“The Trump administration’s decision to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 50,000 Haitians living in the United States is cruel and shameful. Over 5,000 Haitians with TPS call New York State home, the second largest community outside of Florida. America will not be greater or safer by ending this program and attempting to deport those who have made their lives here and are a core part of our country’s economic and social fabric. We call on Congress to act immediately and pass a permanent solution.”
On Monday night, the Department of Homeland Security issued the decision to end the program in 18 months, with an end date of July 22, 2019. This decision follows closely on the heels of DHS decisions to end the program for Nicaragua and Sudan. Decisions on the remaining seven countries are expected over the next eight months.
Temporary Protected Status, also known as TPS, gives permission to legally live and work in the US to some 320,000 immigrants from 10 countries where environmental disaster, armed conflict or other extraordinary circumstances would place them in danger if they had to return.
While DHS argued their decision was based in part on recommendations from the State Department and others that conditions in Haiti had improved enough to allow people to return, many immigrant rights supporters believe that the DHS decision ignores credible evidence about persistently dangerous conditions following the devastating earthquake that indicate that Haiti would be unable to absorb 50,000 more people without setting off another humanitarian crisis.
Four bills have been introduced in Congress which would provide a solution that would allow current TPS holders from Central America and Haiti to remain in the US legally.
With 163,000 members in eleven states and Washington, D.C., 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.