According to U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary, Janet Napolitano, has determined that an 18-month designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti is warranted because of the devastating earthquake and aftershocks which occurred on January 12, 2010.
“It’s a horrible thing that has happened to Haiti,” the secretary going on to say that the TPS is an act of compassion.
Temporary Protection Status (TPS) is a temporary immigration status that is available to individuals from a small number of federally-designated countries suffering armed conflicts, natural disasters, or other extraordinary circumstances.
Haitians have tried for years to be granted TPS, but declined each time.
Haiti endured four consecutive tropical cyclones in 2008 that left 800 people dead.. The same year, Port-Au-Prince was torn apart by looting and violence.. In March, USAID estimated that 2.3 million Haitians were facing “food insecurity” as a result of high food prices.
According to LA Progressive, in March 2009, the Obama administration indicated that it would continue deporting undocumented Haitians, despite appeals by the Haitian government.
One month later, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicated that the Obama administration hadn’t granted Haitians TPS because “we don’t want to encourage other Haitians to make the dangerous journey across the water.”
Among the designated countries for TPS are: El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, and Sudan.
Napolitano declined to say Friday whether the U.S. would continue to interdict boats carrying Haitians who try to flee to the U.S. She said mass migration was not happening.
“The last thing Haiti needs are people leaving the country at this time who will not qualify” for the temporary legal status in the U.S., she said.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Friday that she will travel to Haiti tomorrow with U.S. Agency for International Development Director Rajiv Shah.
Clinton, the first major U.S. official to travel to the quake-battered country, will meet with President Rene Preval and other members of the government.
There is still no confirmed death toll, but the Haitian consul general to the United Nations has estimated the toll could top 100,000.