By Alan Gomez , USA Today
President Trump’s immigration agency is recommending that the U.S. end temporary protections by next January for 50,000 Haitians allowed to remain in the United States following a series of natural disasters that have crippled the poverty-stricken Caribbean nation.
James McCament, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, concluded in a letter last week that conditions in Haiti have improved enough to end “temporary protected status” for Haitians, according to a copy of the letter obtained by USA TODAY.
The Obama administration first offered temporary protection to Haitians following the devastating 2010 earthquake. The protection has been extended several times, the latest set to expire July 22. McCament proposed an extension to January to allow for a “period of orderly transition” but said the program should not be extended beyond then.
A final decision on the Haitians’ fate rests with Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. Spokesman David Lapan said Thursday that Kelly has not yet made that decision.
The recommendation upset Republican and Democratic members of Congress who have pleaded with Kelly to extend the protections. Last month, 10 lawmakers from Florida, where many Haitians reside, wrote to Kelly outlining recent disasters that have slammed Haiti.
That started with the 2010 earthquake that displaced hundreds of thousands and destroyed government buildings throughout the country. Haiti was struck by Hurricane Matthew six months ago, killing 1,000 people and crippling ongoing reconstruction work. All the while, Haiti has dealt with the worst cholera outbreak in its history, which has killed 9,000 people and continues to plague the country.
“Haiti is still struggling to recover from two major natural disasters that killed more than 200,000 people. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world and right now it’s unable to support the roughly 50,000 Haitians that are currently receiving protected status here in the U.S.,” Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said Thursday. “The U.S. should be focused on helping Haiti recover, not sending people back to a country that can’t support them.”
Read more at USA Today.