The Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program for some 50,000 Haitians currently living in the U.S. will expire in July and Secretary John Kelly has asked Department of Homeland Security staff for the criminal history of those thousands of Haitians staying in the country on protected immigration status as he considers the decision whether to extend the program or end it.
The program started in 2010 after the Obama administration granted the said status to Haitians following a massive earthquake that devastated the island-nation Haiti, killing an estimated 220,000 and displacing around one million and a half people. The initially 18-month program has been extended three times since it first expired.
DHS staff clarified that Kelly's requests for criminal data and public benefit usage by Haitian protected status recipients will not be used by Kelly to base his decision on whether to extend or close the TPS program. Joanne Talbot from DHS's Office of Public Affairs said that Kelly has not arrived at a decision yet on the Temporary Protected Status for Haiti. She also said that Kelly's decision will be based on a thorough assessment of the conditions of the country. She added that he has asked the staff for detailed information also for the separate purpose of better understanding how the program operates.
Paul Altidor, ambassador of Haiti to the U.S., said that his government is already in communication with DHS. He also shared that the Haitian government has requested that Temporary Protected Status be extended for at least 12 to 18 months.
Ira Mehlam, media director at the restrictionist Federation for American Immigration Reform said meanwhile that while the Temporary Protected Status granted to Haiti may have some merit, he is still questioning what the program has become. He stressed also that T in TPS stands for 'temporary', but that those under the program "just keep extending their stay in the U.S. long past any reasonable time frame after the triggering event."
James McCarment, director of USCIS, recommended in April that Secretary Kelly not fully extend anymore the Temporary Protected Status for Haitians because conditions have dramatically improved in Haiti.