The United States is searching for ways to aid Haiti's recovery from the disastrous earthquake. One of the best solutions, many argue, is helping the large population of Haitian
migrants here in the U.S. Specifically, they are calling for Temporary
Protected Status (TPS) to be granted to the tens of thousands of
Haitians estimated to be here illegally. The measure, which allows
migrants from disaster-struck nations to stay for several months, is
currently available for Sudanese, Somalian and other foreign visitors.
Proponents say that the measure would benefit Haiti by reducing the number of returning migrants, who would be an additional strain on Haiti's severely weakened civil society, and by increasing the remittances migrant workers would likely send home. The U.S. has already announced it would temporarily halt the planned deportations of 30,000 Haitians. Should it go this step further?
- The Bipartisan TPS Push National Journal's David Gauvey Herbert reports: "The aftershocks in Port-au-Prince hadn't yet died down Tuesday evening when Florida Republican Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart and Lincoln Diaz-Balart released a statement pressing the White House to grant Haiti TPS. On the Democratic side, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Reps. Alcee Hastings and Kendrick Meek of Florida have also taken to the airwaves and Internet to support granting TPS." However, "the program has become a de facto amnesty program" and "might result in a flood of refugees hoping to gain legal status."
- The Economic Case for TPS The Miami Herald insists, "Give Haitians already here and in danger of being deported a chance to remain in this country with the right to work." This would allow Haitians here "to get a work permit and earn money so they can send desperately needed dollars to relatives and friends in Haiti." The Herald argues that the work permit, normally $340, should be available to Haitians for free.
- Could Spur National Immigration Debate The Los Angeles Times's Johanna Neuman thinks so. "The Obama administration has said that it wants to review the issue of the Haitians as part of a comprehensive approach to immigration reform. Coming to the aid of the mostly Catholic country are some advocacy groups with political punch, including the Catholic Church," she writes. "Mindful that immigration is a radioactive issue, Florida politicians are already trying to sell the policy to the public by arguing that the shift would actually help the U.S. economy."
- Obama's Strange Past Opposition Think Progress's Andrea Nill lambastes Obama's pre-hurricane stand against TPS. "In March 2009, the Obama administration indicated that it would continue deporting undocumented Haitians, 'despite appeals by the Haitian government, which says deportations could destabilize a country where food, water and housing have been in extremely short supply since major storms last summer.' One month later, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicated that the Obama administration hadn't granted Haitians TPS because 'we don't want to encourage other Haitians to make the dangerous journey across the water.'"
- It Probably Won't Happen The Village Voice's Ward Harkavy isn't holding his breath. "Some are probably criminals, but the vast majority aren't," he writes of the Haitians here illegally. Harkavy predicts that the deportation ban will shortly end and that TPS protections "are not in the cards. Haitian activists have continually pressed for such status -- way before the devilish earthquake -- because theirs is such a dangerous country."