Democrats in Florida Delegation Want to Extend Temporary Protect Status for Haitians in the U.S.

Last week, two Democrats in the Florida delegation on Capitol Hill–U.S. Reps. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick and Frederica Wilson–urged President Joe Biden to pursue an “extension and redesignation of Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for Haitian migrants, and a moratorium on deportations to Haiti.”

The congresswomen led a letter to Biden and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas on the matter. Four other Democrats in the Florida delegation–U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Al Lawson, Darren Soto and Debbie Wasserman Schultz–also signed the letter. So did four congressional Democrats from other states.

“Given the deteriorating conditions in Haiti and the fast-approaching February 2023 expiration of TPS for Haitians, I’m urging President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas to extend and redesignate TPS for Haitians,” said Wilson. “The extraordinary challenges that prompted Haiti’s original TPS designation persist, and we must continue to provide these protections and other forms of assistance, including for those who arrived after July 29, 2021.”

“Due to failed leadership by the de facto government of Dr. Ariel Henry, the people of Haiti are being terrorized, raped, murdered, and kidnapped daily by emboldened gangs financed and supported by powerful elites,” said Cherfilus-McCormick. “Over the past several months, the pervasive insecurity has resulted in massive protests against the government’s complicity and failures to protect citizens. As evidenced, the insecurity crisis in the Republic of Haiti is dire. For these reasons, President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas have a legal and moral obligation to extend and redesignate TPS for Haitians. It would be unconscionable to send anyone back to Haiti at this time.”

The letter is below.

Dear Mr. President and Secretary Mayorkas,

Thank you for your support of the Haitian people. We are writing to request a redesignation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the Republic of Haiti and an extension for its nationals in the United States, and a moratorium on deportations to the island.

While Congressional Democrats are working to pass legislation to create a pathway to green cards and citizenship for TPS recipients, Senate Republicans have failed to support a permanent solution to countless hardworking immigrants. Thus, the executive branch much act.

Unfortunately, the August 2021 designation, which has protected thousands of Haitian nationals living in the United States, kept mixed-status Haitian families united, provided employment eligibility, and enabled economic contributions to our nation and Haiti, is set to expire. For many decades, the country has weathered foreign interventions, extreme weather events due to climate change, including the 2010 and 2021 earthquakes that claimed roughly 300,000 lives and devastated the nation’s infrastructure, and contagious diseases including cholera and COVID-19.

Furthermore, the country is faced with increased insecurity due to gang violence and the illegal flow of weapons. According to Human Rights Watch’s 2021 World Report, Haiti is experiencing one of the worst outbreaks of violence in decades. Haitians of all ages face powerful gangs who rule with impunity and, in some cases. The lack of the rule of law poses additional threats to holding perpetrators liable.

A year after the assassination of former President Jovenel Moïse, the country lacks a democratically elected government, insecurity due to gangs, and the illegal flow of weapons has increased significantly. Haiti has fallen into a more profound political uncertainty since the death of President Moïse. There is still no elected president, legislators, or mayors.

The power vacuum has allowed hundreds of gangs to flourish and exert control over 60% of Haiti’s capital. The government is not functioning to meet even the most basic needs of its citizens. Women and girls are more vulnerable to gender-based violence. Gang violence, including rampant sexual violence, has shuttered schools, businesses, and healthcare providers, severely restricting humanitarian relief operations.

This month, from the Miami Herald to CNN, Haiti’s security, economic, and political crises have blanketed news coverage, laying bare the deteriorating conditions. It is evident that the extraordinary challenges that prompted Haiti’s TPS designation persist, and we should continue to provide TPS and other forms of assistance —including for those who arrived after July 29, 2021.

Mr. President and Secretary Mayorkas, the situation in the Republic of Haiti is dire. We have a legal and moral obligation to extend and redesignate Haiti for TPS and halt deportations to Haiti. Thank you for your consideration of our requests. We look forward to hearing from you.

Kevin Derby
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