Haitian Community Vows to Fight as Trump Moves to Terminate Legal Status

Most of the Haitians who are about to lose Temporary Protected Status came to the U.S. legally after the 2010 earthquake, and say they have little to return to. Photo Credit: Master Sgt. Jeremy Lock/US Air Force

Suzanne Potter
California News Service

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California is home to some 16,000 Haitians who have now been given less than two years to pack up and leave – or find a way to get legal status – as the Trump administration decided on Tuesday to end Temporary Protected Status for Haitians in July 2019.

Many emigrated legally to the U.S. after Haiti’s massive earthquake in 2010. They’ve made a life here, had children, gotten jobs and formed a community.

Wister Gaetan, secretary of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, a San Diego-based refugee assistance group, says it is simply cruel to separate families, especially when they’ve committed no crime.

“For someone to take pleasure in making people suffer, and then decide to end a policy like that, it’s just like – it’s unhuman,” he states. “To me, this is heartbreaking.”

About 60,000 Haitians have Temporary Protected Status in the United States, but 400,000 people have it nationwide, from 10 countries.

The administration recently gave Nicaraguans one year to settle their affairs, and a decision is expected soon for people from Honduras and El Salvador.

The Department of Homeland Security argues that TPS was never meant to be permanent, and has determined that Haiti is sufficiently recovered from the earthquake to reintegrate its nationals.

Charlie Hinton, a member of the Haiti Action Committee of the Bay Area, says the Haitian community poses no threat, and believes the president is willing to upend immigrants’ lives in order to play to his base.

“Well, I think it’s ideological, in line with Trump’s anti-immigrant policy, his racist and nationalistic, closed-borders policy,” Hinton states.

Armando Carmona is communications manager for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, which is part of the national TPS Alliance. He also says it’s inhumane to leave so many families in limbo.

“We’re fighting for a permanent solution, legislation that will create a pathway to residency after a certain amount of years of being here,” he says.

Last week, lawmakers introduced the SECURE Act in the U.S. Senate, and the American Promise Act in the House, to allow TPS holders to stay and become legal, permanent residents.