Immigration Alert: DHS Terminates Temporary Protected Status for Haitians
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Elaine Duke announced the termination of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Haiti. Secretary Duke delayed the termination until July 22, 2019, to allow those in the United States under TPS to seek and apply for alternative lawful immigration status or, if no alternative exists, to depart to Haiti.
TPS is a form of temporary status allowing individuals from certain countries to lawfully remain in the United States, when conditions in the designated country prevent citizens and nationals from safely returning or when the country is unable to securely facilitate and handle their return. Country conditions that lead to TPS designation include an ongoing armed conflict or an environmental disaster.
DHS designated Haiti following the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck the small island nation on January 12, 2010. DHS determined that the extraordinary circumstances that resulted from the earthquake are no longer impediments to the proper and lawful return of Haitian nationals to their native country. According to the DHS statement, the decision to terminate TPS for Haiti was made after a review of the conditions upon which the country’s original designation were based and whether those extraordinary, but temporary, conditions prevented Haiti from adequately handling the return of their nationals, as required by statute. Based on all available information, including recommendations received as part of an inter-agency consultation process, Acting Secretary Duke determined that the extraordinary conditions caused by the 2010 earthquake no longer exist. Thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated.
Today, nearly 60,000 Haitians live in the United States under TPS. According to the Center for American Progress, Pennsylvania is the home of over 1,400 Haitian TPS beneficiaries. Over 3,400 Haitian TPS beneficiaries live in New Jersey, along with 1,100 U.S.-born children with Haitian TPS beneficiaries. Over 5,200 Haitian TPS beneficiaries, together with 1,900 U.S.-born children, live in New York State – over 80% reside in New York City alone.
Any Haitians who are currently TPS beneficiaries with expiration dates prior to the termination date of July 22, 2019, must take the necessary steps to extend until the date of termination. The Norris McLaughlin & Marcus’ Immigration Practice Group urges Haitian TPS holders to immediately consult with immigration counsel to determine whether a TPS extension application should be lodged and to evaluate what alternative lawful immigration status may be available. Also, employers must be on alert to prevent the unauthorized employment of Nicaraguans with TPS after July 22, 2019.