By Emily Drooby
A new report shows deportations are up. At the same time, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is on the chopping block.
“I was very afraid, scared because I don’t know exactly when they’re going to deport me,” Jaques said. He spoke in Creole to Currents News, while an on-site translator was present.
Jaques has been here in the U.S. on TPS since 2012. For safety concerns, Currents News used a different name.
TPS is a designation given to those whose home country has been seriously impacted by violence or disasters. This way, they can live and work in the U.S., temporarily.
Haiti’s current TPS designation came right after the devastating 2010 earthquake. Over 55,000 people are enrolled.
Jean Similien helps guide people on their path to citizenship through the non-profit Life of Hope. The organization is located in Brooklyn and its mission is to provide equity for immigrants.
“Now, we don’t know what’s going to happen,” Jean explained.
After being threatened in December, TPS was extended to October 2021. If it will be extended further is unknown and that leaves TPS holders in limbo and activists fighting.
“The scary part of TPS is we are living at the mercy of the government,” explained Jean.
There has also been a recent hike in deportations. More than 1,100 people have been sent back to Haiti since February 2021. Even more have been sent back in the weeks following President Joe Biden’s inauguration than the entire 2020 fiscal year.
It’s the opposite of what many believed would happen based on Biden’s immigration policies.
The numbers come from a report filed by a coalition of several immigrant rights groups. They’re tying the hikes to a Trump-era policy that allows deportation without any of the normal rights promised.
All of this confusion and fear comes as reports of violence and political instability in Haiti has increased. There’s also reportedly no access to the COVID vaccine.
“It’s getting worse and worse every year,” said Porez Luxama. He runs the Life of Hope Center.
He explains that fighting to keep Haitians in the U.S. is a Catholic issue because it’s about respecting life.
“People want to live in respect and dignity,” Porez said, “and that’s what this society offers them.”
Recently, there’s been bipartisan support to re-designate Haiti’s TPS status.
However, change has been slow-moving and recipients are getting desperate.
“My message to the government is to try to take the TPS cases under consideration and try to legalize the people here with TPS,” Jaques said through the translator.
Jaques’s status and the status of many others continues to hang in the balance.