By Joe Guzzardi
November 26, 2017
Last week, Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke announced that Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians will end. The TPS-protected Haitians will have 18 months to make arrangements to leave the U.S., and presumably return to their home country.
The year-and-a-half lead time for departure is significant because it is the exact period that’s been allotted to TPS recipients under what is essentially an automatic renewal. Until recently, TPS beneficiaries have routinely been advised every 18 months that their status will be renewed for another 18 months. Some rollovers have been granted since 2001 when El Salvador was designated as TPS-eligible. Most logical thinkers would consider a 16-year residency permanent, but in the federal government’s eyes, it’s temporary.
Immigration skeptics have looked askance at TPS virtually since its inception. While it’s humanitarian to protect those under TPS from deportation during civil wars or natural disasters in their home countries, issuing them employment authorization documents, an affirmative benefit, negatively affects unemployed and under-employed Americans. About 59,000 Haitians have received work permits since the 2010 earthquake struck Haiti.
Haitians, however, have been packing their bags long before Duke’s announcement, but not with home as their destination. Fearful of what President Trump’s administration might mean for aliens, Haitians quit their jobs, sold their belongings, and traveled to Canada where they hope Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s illegal immigrant-friendly government will embrace them. In January, Trudeau began a #welcometoCanada campaign, and promised that all would be welcome.
Within a few months, thousands of Haitians took Trudeau up on his offer. By July, Haitian migrants illegally crossing into Canada more than tripled, and the surge hasn’t let up since. The Haitian influx has been so overwhelming that Canada has quickly back-peddled, although it might be too late to stem the tide. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent Canada’s only Haitian-born parliamentarian Emmanuel Dubourg to Miami, home to the U.S.’s largest Haitian concentration, with instructions to make it clear that there’s no new immigration program for freshly arrived asylum seekers. Dubourg warned the Haitian community that “crossing the [northern] border…is no free pass.”
To date, Canada’s walk back of its open arms immigration policy hasn’t caught on with Haitians. Canadian immigration officials are braced for a significant increase in asylum traffic. And, Canada’s Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said through a representative that while Canada remains open and welcoming to refugees, entering the country must be done legally. The representative added that losing TPS in the U.S. doesn’t mean asylum in Canada.
Critics insist that TPS in the U.S. must have a reasonable time limit, and not remain valid years after the crisis back home has passed. Nationals must return, and apply whatever skills they may have acquired to rebuild their countries. Few are truly served by extended stays, be they in the U.S. or Canada. Tough love is better than constant TPS renewals where the recipients become more and more dependent while their nations grow increasingly dysfunctional.
By Joe Guzzardi