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US expands immigration program for Haitian migrants, citing humanitarian crisis

washington – The US government on Monday expanded a program that allows some Haitian immigrants to live and work in the country without fear of deportation, citing a worsening humanitarian crisis in the impoverished Caribbean nation, which has been besieged by a Is outbreak of violence in recent months.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it would allow tens of thousands of additional Haitians to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) by extending the program’s cut-off date. Previously, only Haitians who arrived in the US before July 29, 2021 were eligible for TPS, but the new designation will allow those living in the country until November 6 this year to apply for the program.

DHS also announced Monday that the US will extend the Haiti TPS program expiration date from February 4, 2023, to August 3, 2024. are not eligible for the program and may face deportation.

Created by Congress as part of the Immigration Act of 1990, TPS is a designation given by federal officials to provide deportation protection and work permits to immigrants from countries experiencing armed conflict, environmental disasters, and other humanitarian emergencies . The program does not confer permanent legal status.

The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti has long been plagued by poverty, political turmoil, mass violence and devastating natural disasters, including a 2010 earthquake that killed thousands.

But Haiti’s already dire situation has worsened over the past year amid intensifying warfare between violent gangs and the government’s struggle to maintain some semblance of order after another. Assassination of President Jovenel Moise In 2021. In October, the country’s prime minister asked the international community to send “special armed forces” to quell the chaos.

In a statement on Monday, the DHS said it ended the TPS program for Haitians because of food, water and fuel shortages in the country amid a “prolonged political crisis” and mass violence there, as well as a rise in cholera cases. be extended. ,

“The conditions in Haiti, which include socioeconomic challenges, political instability, and mass violence and crime – exacerbated by an environmental disaster – warrant the humanitarian relief we are providing today,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. forced.”

According to DHS data, there are currently 101,000 Haitians in the US enrolled in the TPS program. The government is also reviewing Haiti’s 53,000 pending TPS applications. The program’s new cut-off date is expected to make 110,000 Haitians eligible for TPS, DHS data show.

The Biden administration made its first TPS designation for Haitians in the spring of 2021, saying it was too dangerous to return the migrants to Haiti because of security concerns, human rights abuses and the country’s dire economic situation.

Democratic lawmakers have been pushing the Biden administration to expand the TPS program for Haitians, saying the move would not only serve a humanitarian purpose, but would also be beneficial to the economy.

“At a time when we have labor shortages and high inflation, they are on the front lines providing essential services to our country. In addition, redesignating Haiti to TPS will allow more Haitian citizens into the US workforce. contribute their skills and talents,” more than 17 House Democrats wrote a letter to Mayorkas last week.

The Biden administration’s treatment of Haitian immigrants has previously drawn criticism from progressives. In the fall of 2021, the sudden arrival of thousands of Haitians in the small Texas community of Del Rio caught US border officials unprepared, leading to the construction of a temporary migrant camp under a bridge.

News footage showing mounted border agents aggressively courting Haitian immigrants – with some of the agents seen swinging the reins of the division, a type of rope used by horsemen – sparked a massive uproar. A government investigation later found that the agents used “unnecessary” force when they dispersed Haitian migrants who were demanding food be delivered to their families. But the investigation found no evidence that the mounted agents had hit anyone with their reins.

After the events in del Rio, the US launched a deportation blitz towards Haiti, expelling thousands of Haitians. Since the beginning of this year, most Haitians arriving at the US border have been admitted at legal ports of entry, where the Biden administration is making humanitarian exceptions to Title 42, a public health order that allows the US to expel certain migrants. allows. , federal data show.

Under President Biden, America has created TPS programs for an unprecedented number of immigrants and countries. Some citizens of 16 countries are currently eligible for TPS, including immigrants from Afghanistan, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Ukraine and Venezuela, all of whom were made eligible for the program under Mr. Biden.

The Biden administration’s TPS policy is a stark departure from the Trump administration, which attempted to eliminate the designations for several countries; However its efforts were blocked in federal court. The Trump administration argued that TPS authority had been abused and improperly extended despite changing country conditions.

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