Community leaders, plaintiffs, Haitian immigrants and local elected officials gathered today outside the federal courthouse in Downtown Brooklyn in support of legal action to halt the expiration of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian immigrants.
TPS is part of the Federal Immigration Act of 1990, which provides temporary protected status to immigrants in the United States who are temporarily unable to safely return to their home country because of ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions
TPS currently protects the rights of more than 50,000 Haitian immigrants and their families to live and work in the United States, but the current cycle of TPS for these immigrants is set to expire in July of this year.
TPS status was originally granted to Haitians following the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in 2010 which devastated the country killing more than 200,000 people.
In the years following the country has not been able to fully recover due to repeated natural disasters including Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Irma in 2017.
According to an article written by the Washington Post, the Trump Administration has decided to revoke TPS status for a few reasons,“The program was meant to be temporary, not a way for people to become long-term legal residents of the United States. Administration officials have said that decisions about further extensions will be made on the basis of whether initial justifications for protection still exist.”
But that plan sparked five lawsuits including Saget et al v. Trump, whose opening arguments were held today on the legality of separating TPS holders and their families, which brought out the protestors.
Protestors also argued the change in TPS status was steeped in racism and prejudice with nearly everybody quoting President Trump remarks from November 2017 regarding Haiti and calling it “shit-hole.”
“The country of Haiti has been subjected to numerous natural disasters, including hurricanes, tropical storms, and the horrific earthquake of 2010.” said Haitian-American City Council Member Mathieu Eugene (D-Flatbush, East Flatbush, Prospect Lefferts Gardens).
“In addition, Haiti’s socioeconomic infrastructure is not stable enough to handle an influx of Haitian nationals whose lives are being disrupted due to the end of Temporary Protected Status in July. These are hardworking people, and their well being depends on their ability to live in the United States and provide for their families. I have called on the federal government many times to do what is right and extend TPS for Haiti as a humanitarian gesture. Today, I stand together with advocates and those fighting for immigration rights to ensure that the ability of our Haitian workers to pursue the American dream is upheld.”
“To add insult to injury, one-year-ago President Trump called Haiti a ‘shit-hole,’” said Jocelyn Gay from the digital website Haiti Liberte. “We voiced our outrage in the streets, but this lawsuit is our legal response. His racism towards Haitians and other Latin Americans cannot go unanswered.”
The key point(s) that most of the plaintiffs brought up was that the reasons the status was revoked not only could be perceived as racism, but they ignored the fact that Haiti itself has a country in disrepair since the string of natural disasters and cholera outbreaks.
“This is cruel. It is wrong and it is inhumane. This is a policy that is rooted in discriminatory bigotry and closed-minded views. That is what this lawsuit argues and makes clear,” said U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan, Queens).
Haitian-American Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte (D-Flatbush, Ditmas Park) spoke to the crowd in creole reminding them that they are Americans and they should not lose the spirit in of Haiti in their hearts.
Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood) prompted the crowd to follow him in a chant, “No hate no fear, immigrants are welcome here, No hate no fear, immigrants are welcome here, no hate no fear Haitians are welcome here, no hate no fear Haitians are welcome here, no hate no fear TPS is welcome here, no hate no fear TPS is welcome here, no hate no fear everyone is welcome here, no hate no fear everyone is welcome here.”
U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Central Brooklyn) said as a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Chair of the CBC Immigration Task Force, and as a child of Caribbean immigrants, she was infuriated by this Administration’s cruel, inhumane, and racist decision to end the TPS program.
“Today’s trial is critically important, as we demand a ruling that will strike down this unlawful termination for Haitian TPS,” said Clarke.