Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 11th 2017 Contents B6 life
guardian.co.tt Thursday, May 11, 2017
From Page B5
It is unclear if the agency is asking
such questions about other recip-
ients of the temporary protection,
including immigrants from Hondu-
ras and El Salvador.
The Homeland Security Depart-
ment said Kelly has not made a final
decision about Haiti's Temporary
Protected Status and declined to
comment on the process.
Cheryl Little, executive direc-
tor of Miami-based Americans for
Immigrant Justice, said the emails
show that Trump is looking to deny
benefits to Haitians instead of con-
sidering their eligibility for special
She said her Haitian clients with
Temporary Protected Status already
were terrified that their benefits
would be revoked.
"Most of them have lived here up-
ward of 15 years. They work hard.
They pay taxes. They have US citizen
children. They contribute greatly to
our economy," she said.
Trump courted the votes of Hai-
tian-American citizens in the criti-
cal state of Florida. Campaigning in
Miami's Little Haiti in September,
he said: "The Haitian-American
community deserves our gratitude
and our respect, and I want you to
know, you have my respect."
Temporary Protected Status is in-
tended to be just that, temporary.
The Obama administration includ-
ed Haiti in the programme shortly
after the January 2010 earthquake
killed as many as 300,000 peo-
ple, destroyed much of the capital
and caused widespread damage
in southern part of the Caribbean
Since then, Haitians have been el-
igible to stay regardless of how they
entered the United States---legally
or illegally---as long as they were
residing in the US before January
Eligibility for Haitians has been
repeatedly extended and is set to
expire July 22. The Trump admin-
istration must decide by May 23 so
that it can provide 60 days' notice
about its plans.
USCIS' acting director has rec-
ommended letting the programme
expire. In an April 10 memo first
reported by USA Today, James
McCament said Haiti is no longer
in crisis despite its poverty and po-
However, he wants to allow the
Haitians to stay until January so they
have time to make arrangements to
voluntarily leave. If they don't de-
part the US by then, the government
could move to deport them.
Still, Homeland Security's Kelly
has the final word.
The emails inquiring about mis-
deeds were sent from April 7 to
May 1. In her first week on the job,
Kovarik, the policy chief, asked
officials how often Haitians with
temporary status have been con-
victed of "crimes of any kind," and
how many have taken advantage of
She asked for that information in
four separate emails. She also asked
how much money Haitians have sent
home and how often they've trav-
elled back to Haiti. Left unsaid is
that frequent travel could suggest
"Please dig for any stories (suc-
cessful or otherwise) that would
show how things are in Haiti---ie re-
building stories, work of nonprofits,
how the US is helping certain in-
dustries," Kovarik wrote on April 28.
"We should also find any reports
of criminal activity by any individual
with TPS. Even though it's only a
snapshot and not representative of
the entire situation, we need more
than 'Haiti is really poor' stories."
The emails were largely directed
to non-political employees. They
responded by saying much of the
data were not available or were dif-
ficult to find in government records
Criminal fingerprint records, for
instance, don't generally indicate if
a suspect has Temporary Protected
And the employees said the public
benefits request was almost impos-
sible to answer because TPS partic-
ipants aren't eligible for most.
About the only firm information
Kovarik's queries turned up, accord-
ing to the emails, is that Haiti ben-
efited from about US$1.3 billion in
remittances from the United States
Officials said they could only
guess how much came from the
temporarily protected group, which
comprise a fraction of the estimated
954,000-strong Haitian diaspora in
the United States.
Maria Odom, a former Citizenship
and Immigration Services ombuds-
man in the Obama administration,
said she was puzzled by the inquiries
about criminal activities.
She said the government already
checks criminal histories of ap-
plicants and denies protections to
those who've broken US laws.
"You should not craft a human-
itarian policy based on the few,"
Odom said. (AP)
Haitians have been
eligible to stay
regardless of how
they entered the
legally or illegally---
as long as they were
residing in the US
before January 12,
2011. Eligibility for
Haitians has been
and is set to expire
July 22. The Trump
decide by May 23 so
that it can provide
60 days' notice
about its plans.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly is looking at criteria for allowing
Haitian immigrants to remain in the US.
No final decision on Haiti made by Kelly yet
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