Following Homeland Security’s decision to extend the program for only six months, advocates organized a Weekend of Action to educate community members
NEW YORK—On June 11, 2017, a coalition of elected officials, labor and community groups, faith leaders and representatives of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs held a press event calling for a full extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti at Evangelical Crusade of Fishers of Men, a church situated within New York City’s Haitian community in Flatbush, Brooklyn.
Community leaders also educated Haitian community members, particularly TPS recipients, on the need to connect with immigration legal services to determine their legal options, which could include renewing their Temporary Protected Status or seeking out other forms of immigration relief. This event was part of a Weekend of Action in Faith Communities, in which faith leaders gave their congregations information and advocacy tools on Haitian TPS.
On May 22, 2017, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly decided to extend the TPS designation for Haiti for six months, impacting nearly 50,000 Haitian nationals who are TPS recipients – effective July 23, 2017 through January 22, 2018. More recently, Secretary Kelly signaled that he was unsure if there would be an additional extension past January 2018. This level of uncertainty demonstrates the need for Haitian TPS recipients to receive immigration legal services in order to determine their legal options, which may include other forms of immigration relief.
"We appreciate that this administration acknowledges the clear and compelling evidence supporting extension of TPS for the more than 55,000 Haitians living lawful, productive lives," said Tiffany Wheatland-Disu of the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC). “However, a mere six-month extension falls far short of what is needed. Secretary Kelly's recent 4 hour, limited visit to Haiti raises concerns that he is not committed to a fair and earnest assessment of the actual conditions on the ground. The NYIC will continue to stand with Haitians and allies to call upon Secretary Kelly to support Haitian recovery efforts and extend TPS for a full 18 months.”
“The recent six-month extension of Temporary Protected Status for Haitians seeking refuge in the U.S. falls far short of what is needed – a full 18-month extension,” said Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “That is why through this Weekend of Faith, MOIA, alongside our coalition partners, is working to urge Secretary Kelly to renew TPS for Haiti for the full 18 months, allowing nearly 50,000 Haitian nationals to remain in the U.S., and connect the Haitian community in NYC with free, safe immigration legal services.”
“Since the earthquake in 2010, TPS has been a lifeline – literally – for recovery efforts, as women and men here in the United States send desperately-needed remittances to family members and friends who are in Haiti, working to rebuild. The people of Haiti have been resilient, fighting to restore their civil society. But the situation remains precarious. With my colleagues in the Caribbean Caucus and powerful advocates such as the New York Immigration Coalition, I have strongly urged DHS to reconsider this ill-advised decision and to work with the government of Haiti to develop a plan that will meaningfully contribute to the recovery," said Congresswoman Yvette Clarke.
One option for New Yorkers is ActionNYC, the City’s premier program for free and secure immigration legal services, available by calling 311 and asking for “ActionNYC” to schedule an appointment. Another option is iAmerica – through their website, immigrant families from across the country can access immigration legal services and other important information and tools in their communities. In addition, many other City services and resources are available to immigrant New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, including health care, public education, public safety and emergency food and shelter.
“As Haiti continues to recover from Hurricane Matthew, Haitian nationals currently residing in the United States need access to a Temporary Protected Status that will protect those in danger of being deported to a devastated country,” said Senator Chuck Schumer. “I am pleased that the Department of Homeland Security heeded my call by extending TPS by six months. This extension is a commonsense and humane action that will help remove a burden of worry from Haitian nationals as their home country continues to recover and I will continue to fight for future extensions until Haiti is fully recovered.”
"While we have won this battle for now, we must continue to work together and strategize on how to help Haiti rebuild itself following a series of natural disasters, and focus on how we can create a path to permanent residency for the thousands of Haitians, who now call the U.S. home. I stand committed and ready to advocate for and with the Haitian community for the months and years to come,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams
“Along with many community organizations, faith leaders, labor organizations, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and countless members of the Haitian community, I am calling on U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to grant an extension of Haitian TPS for at least 18 months,” said Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte. “There are over 58,000 Haitians that are affected by this status, over 58,000 lives that are being toyed with while partisan politics are being played, and giving only a 6-month extension is nowhere near a sufficient amount of time to make proper arrangements to uproot ones’ life. Let us not forget that Haiti, after the severe earthquake, after Hurricane Matthew which was the worst hurricane Haiti has ever faced and a horrible cholera epidemic which has killed over 10,000 people and left over 800,000 very ill, is not in the condition to receive over 50,000 people and be able to ensure they have a healthy livelihood. The best thing to do for everyone affected and all parties involved is to extend the status for another 18 months.”
The Weekend of Action in Faith Communities also included advocacy, encouraging New York City’s Haitian communities and other concerned New Yorkers to call on the White House and the Department of Homeland Security to grant a full 18-month extension of TPS for Haitian nationals.
The New York Immigration Coalition is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees.The NYIC aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all by promoting immigrants’ full civic participation, fostering their leadership, and providing a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.