WASHINGTON – The US Government announced on Monday that it is ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti and gave the 58,706 citizens of that nation who benefit under the program 18 months to return to their country or seek an alternative.
The TPS for Haiti will end on July 22, 2019, according to a statement by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Within the 18-month time frame, the US expects affected Haitians to “arrange for their departure or to seek an alternative lawful immigration status in the United States” and “prepare for the return and reintegration” to their country with the assistance from US agencies.
The decision comes just two weeks after the US also put an end to the TPS for Nicaragua, thus depriving 5,349 immigrants of their benefits under the program and giving them, in that case 12 months, to prepare for their return before Jan. 5, 2019.
TPS is a US immigration program created in 1990 to grant extraordinary permission to reside and work in the US to citizens of countries affected by armed conflict or natural disasters.
In recent years, TPS holders have seen their permit renewed automatically for periods of 18 months, but the Trump administration decided to reassess the program’s conditions.
In the case of Haiti, the US granted the TPS in 2010 following a catastrophic earthquake that left some 300,000 people dead and plunged the country into chaos.
For its decision on Monday, the DHS determined that “those extraordinary but temporary conditions caused by the 2010 earthquake no longer exist.”
“Since the 2010 earthquake, the number of displaced people in Haiti has decreased by 97 percent. Significant steps have been taken to improve the stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens, and Haiti is able to safely receive returned citizens,” said the DHS.
“Haiti has also demonstrated a commitment to adequately prepare for when the country’s TPS designation is terminated,” added the DHS statement.
Along with the decision made two weeks ago to end the TPS for Nicaragua, the US announced a six-month extension to the TPS for Honduras, which covered 86,163 immigrants in the US, but warned that the possibility to end the program is on the table.
In January 2018, the US is also set to announce its decision regarding the future of the TPS for El Salvador, the largest of all TPS holders, with 263,282 immigrants protected under the program.
Honduras and Nicaragua were granted the TPS in 1998 after the devastating hurricane Mitch hit Central America. El Salvador received the status as a result of a series of earthquakes in 2001.