Senate progressives call on Biden admin to protect Haitian immigrants as deadline looms

Senate progressives call on Biden admin to protect Haitian immigrants as deadline looms

The Biden administration in spring 2021 announced a new Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Haiti, a move that protects thousands of Haitian immigrants already here from being returned back to uncertainty. The designation was expanded to more immigrants just a few weeks later, following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

But this relief is set to end within a few months, in February. More than a dozen senators, led by Ed Markey, say the Biden administration should extend and expand this relief to thousands more vulnerable people. The letter, also signed by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Raphael Warnock, cites in part continued unrest following Moïse’s assassination. “Haiti’s TPS status is urgently warranted,” they write.

RELATED STORY: Coalition urges Biden admin to act on immediate relief after TPS lawsuit negotiations collapse

“On August 3, 2021, the Biden administration designated Haiti for TPS for a period of 18 months,” the letter states. “Since then, the systemic collapse of the country’s economy and the complete erosion of the rule of law, as evidenced by criminal gangs’ control over most aspects of life in Port-au-Prince and other municipalities, have forced Haitians to flee their country in growing numbers.”

Lawmakers say that during this past July alone, 17 Haitians died at sea while attempting to seek refuge. But even reaching land has not assured safety. Since last December, loved ones and advocates have mourned the deaths of 12 Haitian migrants who’ve died in Mexican border towns after being blocked due to U.S. immigration policy. 

“Further compounding this dire situation is Haiti’s recently reported cholera outbreak, with the first case confirmed on October 2, 2022,” lawmakers said. At least 36 have died. “The lack of access to clean water and sanitation, pervasive food insecurity, and inadequate health care has allowed this outbreak to spread rapidly.”

Lawmakers (click here for the full list of signatories) tell Department of Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken that “[e]xtending and redesignating Haiti for TPS will prevent further hardship and unnecessary loss of life.” Relatedly, the State Department last year warned Americans it was too dangerous to travel to Haiti even as the Biden administration carried out deportations to the small nation. Before resigning his post last past fall, a senior State Department official also authored a memo slamming the unlawful deportations of Haitians under the anti-asylum Title 42 policy. 

Haitian TPS was among those targeted by the previous administration, as part of its years-long racist attacks on immigrant communities. The ensuing lawsuit stretched into the Biden administration. However, settlement talks broke down last month, leaving hundreds of thousands of immigrants from nations, including El Salvador and Honduras, in limbo. These designations end even sooner, in December.

“A redesignation of TPS will allow newly arrived Haitians in the United States to lawfully support themselves and the communities that have welcomed them,” Markey said. “Denying access to TPS to recent arrivals will neither serve as an effective deterrent to future border crossings, given Haitians’ desperation to flee dire conditions, nor cause them to leave the United States voluntarily in light of the continuing extraordinary conditions preventing their safe return home. It will simply ensure that Haitians will live in poverty and at risk of removal in the United States.”

RELATED STORIES:

300,000 immigrants at risk after TPS lawsuit negotiations break down: ‘Heartbreaking for us all’

Biden admin was warned internally about Haitian deportations. Thousands have been deported anyway

ICE continues flights to Haiti as U.S. warns it’s too dangerous for Americans to travel there

At long last, the 2022 midterms are almost here! With the battle for the House front and center, we give you a window into the key races on a final pre-election episode of The Downballot. We discuss a wide range of contests that will offer insight into how the night is going, including top GOP pickup opportunities, second-tier Republican targets, and the seats where Democrats are on offense. And with many vote tallies likely to stretch on for some time, we also identify several bellwether races in states that count quickly.

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