Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has introduced legislation in Congress that calls on the Department of Homeland Security to grant a new 18-month temporary protected status designation for Haitian immigrants.
The administration announced in 2017 that it is going to remove temporary protected status for immigrants from six nations, including Haiti. Since then, two federal district courts have issued preliminary injunctions saying the Haitian immigrants should not lose their temporary protected status.
“As you know, conditions in Haiti remain volatile as the government and people have yet to fully recover from a series of natural disasters and an intervening public health epidemic causing extraordinary conditions for the government and the public of Haiti,” Rubio notes in a letter addressed Monday to Kevin McAleenan, the Department of Homeland Security’s acting secretary.
Haitian immigrants have had temporary protected status since shortly after the devastating 2010 earthquake that killed as many as 316,000 people and displaced 1.5 million more. The recovery has also been slowed by a cholera epidemic and Hurricane Matthew’s damage in 2016.
In his letter to McAleenan, Rubio says a recent visit to Haiti convinced him that the Caribbean nation is unable to absorb a “large number of returnees at this time.”
“New Haitian leadership has provided the United States with a renewed opportunity to empower its people to advance our shared principles of freedom and democracy and to ultimately rebuild a stronger and even more resilient Haiti,” Rubio writes. “We must remain committed to those principles and stand with our neighbors in Haiti as they tackle their challenges.”
Haitian immigrants were keenly aware that this week had a deadline for them to “self-deport” out of Florida and back to Haiti – due to a policy by the Trump administration. That is on hold, pending more court challenges.
Rubio joined up with nearly two dozen Democratic U.S. Senators in March to call on President Trump to extend temporary protected status for Venezuelans living in the U.S. Hyperinflation and food shortages have driven at least three million Venezuelans out of their nation.