Haitian Quake Victims Get Temporary Protection Status Extension
At the urging of two New York elected officials — U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Brooklyn Congreesswoman Yvette Clarke, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano this week announced the extension of temporary protected status (TPS) for Haitians who are currently living in the United States. Earlier this year, Senator Gillibrand and Representative Clarke led a bipartisan group of House and Senate colleagues urging the President to extend TPS status, set to expire this July, for Haitians living in America. This new designation will allow Haitians to stay and work here through January 22, 2013.
“Now that the cameras have left Haiti, we cannot leave the Haitian people behind,” Senator Gillibrand said. “We must provide temporary comfort and refuge for our New York families and their loved ones who experienced far too much anguish. I want to thank President Obama and Secretary Napolitano for extending temporary protected status for Haitians living in the U.S. They can live without fear of having to immediately return to a country still ravaged with devastation. There is still much that needs to be done to help Haiti. We must remain steadfast in our mission to see Haiti recover, overcome and succeed.”
“Today I join Senator Gillibrand and all my colleagues in applauding Secretary Janet Napolitano’s announcement to extend Temporary Protected Status for Haitian nationals, allowing them to remain in the United States until January 22, 2013,” said Congresswoman Clarke. “I am glad Secretary Napolitano’s heeded the calls from many lawmakers, advocates, and the Haitian community to extend TPS for Haitian nationals. This indeed marks a significant step forward in helping the Haitian Diaspora.”
Since the devastating earthquake, Senator Gillibrand made her case to the President, immediately leading the call to grant TPS status for Haitians who fled to America because of past violence and disaster. President Obama agreed and granted the initial TPS status in January 2010.
More than a year after the tragedy, there are still over a million displaced people living in tent camps while conditions in Haiti continue to deteriorate. The re-designation now allows eligible individuals who arrived up to one year after the earthquake in Haiti to receive TPS protection.
The text of Gillibrand and Clarke’s letter to the President follows: Dear Mr. President:
We write to urge you to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to currently eligible Haitian nationals residing within our borders. As you are aware, TPS is set to expire on July 22, 2011, and the deadline for registration is January 18th of this year. We ask that the TPS designation for Haitian nationals be extended for one year, expiring July 22, 2012, with a commensurate extension for registration. As the anniversary of the earthquake approaches, and the Haitian people continue to face enormous challenges, we strongly believe that the extension of TPS and the remittances that result from it will be integral to our country’s commitment to rebuilding the island nation.
One year after the earthquake, over a million displaced people still live in tent camps while conditions in the country continue to deteriorate. It is apparent that substantive reconstruction has barely begun and significant progress will continue to face obstacles in the near future. As witnessed in the recent demonstrations following the Haitian general elections, civil strife and unrest continue to pervade the populace at large. With the growing cholera epidemic, the situation in Haiti is especially dangerous and volatile.
Many of us have witnessed this devastation firsthand during various trips to Haiti over the course of the past year. Haiti continues to meet the criteria for TPS designation and extending it would be one way to address this catastrophe. Remittances garnered by those with TPS will also continue to alleviate burdens on American financial assistance. We respectfully request that you extend the expiration date on TPS to Haitian nationals in the United States as soon as possible.