The Battle for Justice for Haitians Continues

Miami, FL – November 21, 2017 – Last night, on the cusp of a holiday celebrating family, immigration, and welcoming all to our tables, we learned that Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke decided to terminate Haitian Temporary Protected Status (TPS), giving Haitians 18 months to pack their bags.  This announcement was a painful and cruel reminder of how little our government seems to care about Haitians and other TPS recipients who have lived here for upwards of 20 years and have raised families that include nearly 275,000 U.S. born children.

“Our sense of freedom has been stripped away. It’s fear and it’s stress.  Most people fear all law enforcement now.”  – Farrah Larrieux, TPS recipient and AI Justice client

Haitians are an integral part of our workforce and the economic costs of ending this much-needed protection are enormous. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau, the inability of Haitians to continue working here would result in $2.8 billion in lost GDP over a decade, and $428 million in lost Social Security and Medicare contributions.  On the other hand, the cost of deporting Haitian TPS holders is $469 million.

The Sunshine state’s economy benefits enormously from TPS workers, including staffing at Florida’s medical facilities, airports and taxis, as well as the construction and hospitality industries.

Our Haitian TPS families have had far too many sleepless nights in recent months, and sadly this news will only increase their anxiety. But we haven’t lost the war yet, and will work tirelessly during these next 18 months with our Democratic and Republican friends in Congress to fix our broken immigration system,” said AI Justice Executive Director Cheryl Little.

“Many of us have been working to achieve justice for Haitians for decades, and one of our biggest achievements was the granting of TPS following the 2010 Haitian earthquake.  For once, our government did the right thing by Haitians and they had hope for a better future.  Despite a growing sense of hopelessness, we have not given up,” Little added.

As reported in the New York Times yesterday, one of the younger beneficiaries of the program, Peterson Exais, an AI Justice client, barely survived the earthquake. He arrived in the United States when he was 9 years old to receive emergency medical care after surviving for days under the rubble. He endured more than a dozen surgeries and has become a promising dancer at a magnet school in Miami. Now 17 years old, Peterson dreams of pursuing studies at the Juilliard School. “This is very devastating news for me,” he said yesterday.

“As advocates, we are tired.  We are disappointed.  However, our work is more important than ever, and we must rally.  We have a lot of work to do in the next 18 months,” said AI Justice Family Defense Program Director Adonia Simpson. “AI Justice will continue to work to identify alternative and better forms of relief for our clients.  We will continue to push for a legislative solution for not only our TPS recipients, but also for DREAMers, which as a whole total more than a million vibrant, hardworking, and contributing members of our community.  AI Justice stands with you and will fight for you.”