Biden’s Latest Charity Project Sees 300,000 Haitians Gain Temporary Protected Status

Nelson Antoine /
Nelson Antoine /

Well, isn’t this a surprise? Thanks to the Homeland Security Department’s decision on Friday, about 300,000 Haitians already in the United States will now be able to stay and work here legally. The reason? Conditions in Haiti are so terrible that sending them back would be downright cruel.

This move significantly expands Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians, earning applause from Haitian and immigration advocacy groups. But let’s break it down: TPS was established by Congress in 1990 to prevent deportations to countries grappling with natural disasters or civil strife. The Homeland Security secretary can grant this temporary protection based on the conditions in home countries. It’s meant for a designated period, and individuals must apply and prove they qualify. This status also allows them to work legally.

This new expansion covers Haitians who were already in the U.S. as of June 3, 2023, and will last until February 3, 2026. If you arrived after June 3, sorry, you’re out of luck. Secretary Mayorkas also extended the TPS for about 200,000 Haitians who already had it. Their protection now lasts until February 3, 2026, too.

Let’s be clear: This is one of the most significant expansions of TPS ever. It highlights yet another stark contrast between President Joe Biden’s immigration policies and those of his predecessor, Donald Trump, who aimed to end temporary status for many countries, including Haiti.

Haiti has been a disaster zone for years. Gangs have overrun the capital, Port-au-Prince, and surrounding areas, leaving a trail of violence, kidnapping, and chaos. Thousands have been killed, raped, or left homeless, which only deepens the poverty and desperation.

Homeland Security noted in a press release that several regions in Haiti are plagued by violence and insecurity, with limited access to essential needs like safety, healthcare, food, and water. Haiti also suffers from frequent flooding, mudslides, and earthquakes, leading to ongoing humanitarian crises.

About 200,000 Haitians already have TPS from previous designations, such as after the devastating 2010 earthquake and the political turmoil in 2021. Take Fanor Massolas, for example. He’s from southern Haiti and received TPS in 2010. Now, he works at Los Angeles Airport and says he’s always anxious about whether his protection will be renewed. But he admits it’s far better than having no protection at all. Returning to Haiti is not an option for him.

Massolas views the U.S. as his home despite not having citizenship. Here, he lives, works, and even learns English. He said that every human needs safety, which he found in the U.S. Haiti, on the other hand, offers no such guarantee.

With this latest expansion, 309,000 Haitians will now be eligible for protected status. Currently, nearly 900,000 people from 16 countries hold TPS, with Haitians being one of the largest groups, alongside nationals from Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras, and Ukraine.

While TPS grants people the legal right to stay and work in the U.S., it doesn’t offer a long-term path to citizenship. They rely on the government to renew the status, which critics argue becomes almost automatic over time, regardless of changes in the country’s conditions.

Haiti has been a persistent challenge for the Biden administration, which has tried to curb illegal crossings. Recently, they suspended asylum processing for those crossing illegally. Since this policy change, the administration reported a more than 40% drop in illegal crossings.

In 2021, about 16,000 predominantly Haitian migrants gathered at the Rio Grande in Texas, prompting large-scale deportations. Since then, Haitian border arrests have dropped significantly, even before the administration introduced an app in January 2023, allowing up to 30,000 people per month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to enter the U.S. legally with financial sponsors.

Still, some Haitians risk the dangerous sea route. Last Wednesday, over 100 Haitians arrived in a sailboat off the Florida Keys.

While advocacy groups like the Haitian Bridge Alliance praised the TPS expansion as a crucial move, they also called for an end to deportations to Haiti. However, Homeland Security made it clear that deportations will continue for those trying to enter illegally, reinforcing U.S. laws and policies throughout the Caribbean and at the southwest border.

So, there you have it. Another immigration policy that will stir up the debate. Is it compassionate? Sure. Is it controversial? Absolutely. Only time will tell how this plays out on the political stage.