Friday, January 15, 2010

Wonderful News! U.S. Grants Temporary Protected Status to Haitians in United States

Wonderful news! Just a few moments ago, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that Haiti has been designated for Temporary Protected Status! Haitians already in the United States will be able to stay and work in this country while Haiti recovers from Tuesday's devastating earthquake.

We don't have an official press release yet, but the Washington Post announced the following:

The Obama administration announced Friday that it will allow an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 Haitians living in the United States illegally to stay and work in the country for 18 months as part of its response to Tuesday's earthquake, but warned Haitians that leaving the country now "will only bring more hardship to the Haitian people and nation."

Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said the decision to grant Temporary Protected Status to illegal immigrants from Haiti who were living in the United States as of January 12 was a gesture of compassion and an attempt to ensure that the flow of remittances and economic support to their devastated homeland continue.

"This is a disaster of historic proportions," Napolitano said in a 5 p.m. conference call, "Providing a temporary refuge for Haitian nationals who are currently in the United States and whose personal safety would be ended by returning to Haiti as part of this administration continue effort to support Haiti's recovery."

However, Napolitano coupled that message with a caution to Haitians now seeking refuge outside their country. While she declined to specify the consequences for those caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally, she said, "At this moment of tragedy in Haiti, it is tempting for people suffering in the aftermath of the earthquake to seek refuge elsewhere, but attempting to leave Haiti now will only bring more hardship to the Haitian people and nation."

Today, FCNL, working with the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, submitted an interfaith letter to President Obama and Secretary Napolitano urging the administration to immediately grant Temporary Protected Status to Haitians in the United States. We are thrilled to learn that the administration has done so and we hope that every effort will be made to streamline the registration process for Haitian immigrants as they apply for TPS.

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