Brooklyn lawmakers reacted with outrage after the Trump administration decided to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 59,000 Haitians living and working in the United States on Monday.
The program, which allowed Haitians escaping the devastation of the 2010 earthquake to stay in the United States, will be officially terminated July 2019.
Supporters of the program argued that as Haiti is still recovering from the damage of the earthquake, the country would be unable to provide for the influx of returning citizens. Despite calls for an extension, acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke made the decision Monday night.
“I am equally saddened and angered to learn of this administration’s decision to terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) of 60,000 Haitians,” said Assembly member Rodneyse Bichotte (D-Flatbush, Ditmas Park), the daughter of Haitian immigrants.
“For anyone that has been to Haiti in recent months, it is clear that the Administration’s decision does not coincide with the dangerous reality on the ground. The return of tens of thousands of people is only going to make conditions worse. In addition, for both Haitians and Central Americans, their economic contributions to both the US and their home countries will now be lost.”
According to the Migration Policy Institute, the Haitian population tripled in size from 1990 to 2015, though most Haitian immigrants arrived before the earthquake. From 2011 to 2015, the New York metro area was the second largest concentration of Haitian-born residents in the country, second only to greater Miami. According to a 2013 report by the Department of City Planning, there were 61,550 Haitian-born residents in Brooklyn in 2011, mainly concentrated in Central Brooklyn.
Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-Crown Heights, Flatbush, East Flatbush, Brownsville, Sheepshead Bay) underscored the contributions to both the United States and Haiti, by Haitian immigrants in the United States. She added that remittances from Haitian nationals are crucial for recovery in Haiti, providing for education, agricultural restoration and business development.
“The earthquake in 2010 killed more than 220,000 people, disrupted the function of civil society in Haiti, displacing families from their homes, closing schools and social service agencies, creating instability in government, and undermining the economy,” said Clarke. “The people of Haiti demonstrated extraordinary resolve in their efforts to rebuild. These efforts have been supported by Haitian nationals here in the United States who have worked hard and sent money to family members and friends. While campaigning in Miami, then-candidate Donald Trump called Haitian-Americans hard-working, creative and industrious and promised to be their ‘greatest champion.’ Yesterday, he broke that promise.”
District Leader Josue Pierre said that the recent decision was an example of the Trump administration’s negligent attitude towards immigrants in the United States. But he added that TPS had not been sufficiently long-term to begin with and that undocumented immigrants, including Haitians, needed a solid path to permanent citizenship.
“This is another step in the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant agenda, especially those of color,” said Pierre. “Does it makes sense to fight for 6 and 18 month TPS increments? We must start to consider a path to citizenship for all undocumented communities under TPS and DACA. These 50,000 Haitians must be part of a general amnesty and a comprehensive immigration plan.”