By Cameron Wertz
The Trump administration is considering eliminating protected status for Haitians, which may cause problems for some KU students.
According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website, then-acting Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly, “extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible nationals of Haiti (and eligible individuals without nationality who last habitually resided in Haiti) through Jan. 22, 2018.”
After consulting with various U.S. government agencies and reviewing country conditions, Kelly determined that a limited, six-month extension was warranted.
Approximately 58,000 Haitians immigrated to the United States with TPS after the 2010 earthquake. With two cities, Reading and Allentown, on both sides of Kutztown, a fair number of Haitians came to KU seeking a better education. Some have graduated and others are still working on their degrees, but the TPS change may have an adverse effect for these students.
Martin, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, is a senior at KU and is supposed to graduate in May 2018. However, the TPS is currently set to expire Jan. 22, 2018, four months before Martin would be able to graduate. When asked whether he was worried that the TPS won’t be renewed he said, “Yeah. Absolutely. I don’t know what is going to happen if it’s not [renewed]. I’m worried all the hard work and money will be for nothing, because I won’t have a degree, and I will be so close.”
According to the USCIS website, a country may be designated for TPS due to, “Ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war), an environmental disaster (such as earthquake or hurricane), or an epidemic.” TPS was granted to eligible Haitian nationals after Haiti was devastated by an earthquake in 2010. Seven years later, Haiti is still recovering from the earthquake, which has been further complicated by devastation from Hurricane Matthew and a cholera outbreak from a UN base’s improper disposal of human waste.
The six-month extension is a rather drastic change compared to the 18-month renewals of the previous administration. These extensions are made in respect to conditions in Haiti. Though the extension has been cut, the USCIS website also said, “conditions in Haiti supporting its designation continue to be met at this time.”
At least 60 days before Jan. 22, 2018, the designation for Haiti will be re-evaluated. Lee Francis Cissna, director of USCIS, will determine whether another extension or termination of the TPS is warranted, but the USCIS website said, “beneficiaries are encouraged to prepare for their return to Haiti in the event Haiti’s designation is not extended again.”