Washington D.C. – As the projected May 21, deadline expired Monday, the Trump administration offered relief to more than 50,000 Haitians who will reportedly have their Temporary Protective Status extended by six months.
The Washington Post reported Monday that the administration plans to allow for a six-month extension of the special humanitarian immigration status granted to tens of thousands of Haitians.
Some 930,000 Haitians live in the U.S., according to the 2013 American Community Survey, the latest year data were available.
More than 50,000 of them have TPS. Somalia, South Sudan and Syria are also eligible for the status.
But while Haitians were celebrating, citizens from Liberia and Sierra Leone were not.
Haitians had staged protests across the US as the clock ticked on the May 21 deadline for the TPS.
Liberians had been hoping a late town hall rally would push the administration to change its mind but that did not materialize with many critics suggesting that Liberian Diaspora organizations waited too late to pile the pressure as the Haitians did.
The deadline for the U.S. government’s decision on whether to extend TPS is May 21.
The Post reports that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is still finalizing the details of the decision.
Immigration advocates hoped the government would extend the status for another 18 months because Haiti, a country still reeling from Hurricane Matthew last year and the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, which devastated the capital city of Port-au-Prince and killed more than 200,000 people, is not ready to take back tens of thousands of people.
After the six-month extension, the government is expected to review the immigration program later this year
TPS is a temporary immigration status granted to eligible nationals of a country designated for TPS under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), or to eligible persons without nationality who last habitually resided in the designated country.
During the TPS designation period, TPS beneficiaries were eligible to remain in the United States and authorized to work and obtain as long as they met the requirements of TPS.
The status also allows beneficiaries travel authorization as a matter of discretion.
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf told FrontPageAfrica in March that her administration was hoping the US will reconsider its position and keep Liberians with their families and not separated.
“We want to entreat the government of the United States to continue to give the same humanitarian consideration that has characterized successive extension of the TPS.”
Liberians first became eligible for TPS when the country was at war; later, during the Ebola outbreak, TPS eligibility was extended to cover that emergency.
Regarding any future decisions the Administration may make regarding immigration matters, we refer you to the White House press office.”
Rep. Ed Royce(R-Calif) told FrontPageAfrica recently that said it is important for citizens from the three countries to begin making contact with the Department of Homeland Security to avoid embarrassment.
Citizens from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have been encouraged utilized other immigration status in order to continue living in the US legally.
The six-month extension was only granted to ensure the orderly repatriation of those in the U.S. under this program.”
According to the DHS, once the TPS becomes ineffective on May 21, 2017, former TPS beneficiaries will maintain the same immigration status they held before TPS (unless the status has since expired or been terminated) or any other status they may have acquired while registered for TPS.
Last September, former Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson is extending TPS benefits for the last time to beneficiaries under the designations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone for 6 months for the purpose of orderly transition before the designations terminate, effective May 21, 2017.
Secretary Johnson said after reviewing country conditions and consulting with the appropriate U.S. government agencies, it was determined that conditions in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone no longer support their designations for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
The widespread transmission of Ebola virus in the three countries that led to the designations has ended.
Even for those looking to seek other immigration status, it is possible that US immigration authorities could probe police and criminal records to determine whether they could remain.
The Post reported that the Trump administration, earlier this month, sent waves of fear through Haitian communities after the Associated Press reported that his administration was looking into how many Haitians on TPS have been convicted of criminal activity, as well as the number using public assistance.
TPS immigrants cannot receive public benefits and undergo extensive criminal background checks before being granted their status.
Those fears were allayed after a spokesperson for Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in a statement that criminal history and public benefit usage is not being used as criteria for determining if someone should receive TPS.
To be eligible, people from affected countries must already be in the U.S. when war breaks out or disaster hits, so people in, say, Syria, cannot apply for protection from their origin country.
Haitians became eligible for TPS following the 2010 earthquake, which for years fueled food insecurity and cholera across the Caribbean island. Those threats were further exacerbated by Hurricane Matthew, which hit Haiti in October 2016.