Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti this week, many activists and politicians have heightened the cry for granting undocumented Haitians in the U.S. Temporary Protected Status (TPS). TPS is a longstanding cornerstone of U.S. immigration policy that is afforded to undocumented immigrants from a small number of federally designated countries suffering armed conflicts, natural disasters, or other extraordinary circumstances until conditions improve. Many claim Haitians should’ve received TPS after four consecutive tropical cyclones in 2008 left 800 people dead, hundreds missing, and made the Haitian city of Gonaives “uninhabitable.”
However, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) seems to think that not only were undocumented Haitians undeserving of TPS status then, undocumented Haitians living in the U.S. should now be deported back to their country to specifically serve as much-needed relief workers. ABCNews reports:
“This sounds to me like open borders advocates exercising the Rahm Emanuel axiom: ‘Never let a crisis go to waste,’” Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said in an e-mail message to ABCNews. “Illegal immigrants from Haiti have no reason to fear deportation but if they are deported, Haiti is in great need of relief workers and many of them could be a big help to their fellow Haitians.”
Members of King’s own party disagree. Though none of three GOP lawmakers is a co-sponsor of Rep. Luis Gutierrez’s (D-IL) comprehensive immigration reform bill, Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) have called on President Obama to grant TPS to undocumented Haitian immigrants, “a virtual lifeline for such an impoverished country.” Even the not too immigrant-friendly Mark Krikorian claims that TPS “was invented precisely for cases like Haiti today.” Dan Stein, director of the designated hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform, suggests coupling TPS for Haitians with the termination of TPS and the deportation of other nationals who he believes no longer “merit” it — an unusually generous recommendation for someone like Stein.
The Obama administration has agreed to halt the deportation of undocumented Haitians, though those currently held in detention centers will remain jailed unless TPS is granted. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) points out, that “it makes no sense to tell Haitians already here that they can stay in the U.S. in the wake of the earthquake, but cannot legally support themselves.”
More at Wonk Room.
Update Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IA) has issued a press release calling on the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to grant TPS for 18 months to Haitian immigrants. Lugar states, "It is in the foreign policy interest of the United States and a humanitarian imperative of the highest order to have all people of Haitian descent in a position to contribute towards the recovery of this island nation."
Fox Nation equates temporary protections for Haitians in the U.S. with "Amnesty" for "Illegal Aliens"
A January 15 Fox Nation headline asserted, "Obama Moves to Grant Amnesty to Haitian Illegal Aliens." However, the article to which Fox Nation linked reported on the temporary suspension of deportations of undocumented Haitian immigrants and on widespread calls for the administration to grant temporary protected status to such individuals, making no mention of "amnesty to Haitian illegal aliens."
Fox Nation claims, "Obama Moves to Grant Amnesty to Haitian Illegal Aliens"
The following headline was posted on Fox Nation on January 15:
In fact, Obama administration suspended deportations to Haiti "for the time being"
NYT: Administration "temporarily suspended deportations of illegal immigrants" from Haiti. The New York Daily News article to which Fox Nation linked reported that "the Obama administration has halted deportations" of undocumented Haitian immigrants. The New York Times further reported on January 13 that "Obama administration officials on Wednesday temporarily suspended deportations of illegal immigrants from that country. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Haitian deportations would be halted 'for the time being,' without specifying a time period."
NY Daily News reported calls for temporary protected status for Haitians in the U.S., which "doesn't lead to permanent residency." The Daily News article further reported on calls for the Obama administration to grant Haitians "the U.S. special status to stay here until conditions improve" and stated that "[t]he status doesn't lead to permanent residency and ends after 18 months, but it can be renewed."
U.S. has previously granted temporary protected status to immigrants from countries ravaged by natural disasters. According to a January 13 Wonk Room report, "[t]he U.S. generously granted and extended TPS for 82,000 Hondurans and 5,000 Nicaraguans after Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and to 260,000 Salvadorans after an earthquake in 2001. There's no reason why Haitians should be treated any different."