Saturday, January 16, 2010

Obama Grants Illegal Haitians Temporary Protected Status

Earlier this week, in response to the devastation from the Haiti earthquake, the Obama administration temporarily suspended deportations of illegal immigrants from that country.

The temporary legal status is an act of compassion....Temporary protected status is granted to foreigners who may not be able to return safely to their country because of a natural disaster, armed conflict or other reasons. -- Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano
Now, President Obama has extended a special immigration status to Haitians living illegally in the U.S. This ruling protects them from deportation for 18 months and allows them to work here. This is only available to Haitians already in the country as January 12, 2010. This temporary protection status could affect 100,000 to 200,000 Haitians in the U.S. as well as about 30,000 Haitians who had been ordered deported.
The administration’s decision followed a rising chorus of calls for the temporary status after the earthquake on Tuesday. On Friday, 80 representatives and 18 senators, including Democrats and Republicans, sent appeals to the administration to grant the status, as did the conference of Roman Catholic bishops.
However, this is not the first request for temporary protected status. The Haitian government and advocates in the U.S. have been asking Washington to grant this status, since late 2008, after a series of natural disasters, starting with floods in 2004 that left more than 5,000 people dead or missing to four big storms that killed at least 800 people and destroyed most of Haiti’s food crops in 2008.

The Bush administration decided against granting Haitians the temporary status in December 2008, and the Obama administration, in March 2009, continued deporting Haitians.

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