Haitian families across the US are celebrating the Biden government’s decision to spare about 55,000 people from deportation back to their violence-and-corruption plagued home country.
The decision declared late May 22 by Alejandro Mayorkas, the Secretary of Homeland Security, covers Haitian migrants living in the United States as of May 31, giving them Temporary Protected Status to work and live legally in the US for at least another 18 months.
In California, Haitians were “dancing in the streets” when Alejandro announced the decision, said Frederica Wilson, a Congresswoman representing neighbourhoods north of Miami. “It was so celebratory that people knew we weren’t supposed to hug as we were in a pandemic, but people were dancing and hugging in the streets, in their masks.”
Migrants coming into the United States after May 31 are not covered, the Department of Homeland Security said, including those who are arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Haitians who are in this country get a respite from having to return to an unstable situation,” said the president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Allen Orr Jr. “, And they get work authorization.”
The decision reverses a Trump government decision to withdraw TPS for Haitian migrants; however, most deportations had been paused by the courts shortly after Donald Trump tried to end it in 2018.
Approximately 2,000 Haitians were expelled in the months after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, despite his pledge to halt deportations temporarily. Experts said most of the Haitians deported in that period were new arrivals across the Mexico-U.S. border who were transferred because of immigration protocols intended to moderate the spread of COVID-19.
Immigration rights groups appreciated the TPS designation, which they said better indicates the United States’ legal, moral and ethical obligation to the world.
“It’s who we are as a nation: We don’t send people to certain death. It’s not something we do,” said Allen Orr.