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By Felicia J. Persaud

News Americas, FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, Mon. May 24, 2021: Caving finally to pressure, the Joe Biden administration has now announced a new 18-month designation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), much to the relief of many Haitians.

Both U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, had sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas urging the Biden Administration to re-designate Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

They had cited the UN’s 2021 Haiti Humanitarian Needs Overview, which said approximately 4 million people were affected by acute food insecurity from August 2020 to February 2021 and 2.1 percent of children in the country faced severe acute malnutrition during this period.

Mayorkas announced the TPS designation on May 22, 2021. It enables Haitian nationals and individuals without nationality who last resided in Haiti and who are currently residing in the United States as of Friday, May 21, 2021 to file initial applications for TPS.

All individuals applying for TPS undergo security and background checks as part of determining eligibility. You will be rejected if you have been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States or are found inadmissible as an immigrant under applicable grounds, including non-waivable criminal and security-related grounds.

Additionally, you can be rejected if you fail to meet initial or late initial TPS registration requirements; or if granted TPS, you fail to re-register for TPS, as required, without good cause; are subject to any of the mandatory bars to asylum including participating in the persecution of another individual or engaging in or inciting terrorist activity and fail to meet the continuous physical presence and continuous residence in the United States requirements.

The designation is not applicable to those who attempt to travel to the US now. The 18-month designation will go into effect on the publication date of the Federal Register notice to come shortly, which will also provide instructions for applying and for employment authorization documentation.

The Cuban-born Mayorkas said “serious security concerns, social unrest, an increase in human rights abuses, crippling poverty, and lack of basic resources, which are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic” triggered the decision.

“After careful consideration, we determined that we must do what we can to support Haitian nationals in the United States until conditions in Haiti improve so they may safely return home,” he noted.

Former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, under the Obama administration, initially designated Haiti for TPS in January 2010 based on extraordinary and temporary conditions within the country, specifically the effects of a 7.0-magnitude earthquake. In 2011, Haiti’s designation was extended, and the country was also redesignated for TPS at the same time. Haiti’s designation was subsequently extended again for 18 months in 2013 and 2015, and for an additional six months in 2017.

In January 2018, a Federal Register notice announced termination of Haiti’s TPS designation effective July 22, 2019. Four separate lawsuits challenged that termination. Due to court injunctions and other rulings, TPS for Haiti remains in effect pending case outcomes. Existing TPS Haiti beneficiaries retain their TPS and TPS-related documents through October 4, 2021, and DHS will continue to extend the benefit and documents if required to comply with court orders. These beneficiaries are also eligible to apply under the new designation of Haiti to receive TPS for the entire 18-month period.

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