FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sunday, June 11, 2017
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Following U.S. Department of Homeland Security's decision to extend TPS for only six months, advocates organized Weekend of Faith to share resources with Haitian community
NEW YORK—On June 11, 2017, a coalition of elected officials, labor and community groups, faith leaders and the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs held a press conference calling for a full extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti, as part of a Weekend of Faith at over 70 churches across the city. The press conference was held at Evangelical Crusade of Fishers of Men, a church situated in a Haitian community in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Community leaders also educated Haitian community members, particularly TPS recipients, on the need to connect with immigration legal services in determining their legal options, which could include renewing their Temporary Protected Status or seeking out other forms of immigration relief. Throughout the Weekend of Faith, religious leaders gave their congregations information and advocacy tools on Haitian TPS. In addition, several churches held Know Your Rights Forums particularly for Haitian New Yorkers.
"Since the earthquake in 2010, TPS has been a lifeline – literally – for recovery efforts, as women and men here in the United States send desperately-needed remittances to family members and friends who are in Haiti, working to rebuild," said Congresswoman Yvette Clarke. "The people of Haiti have been resilient, fighting to restore their civil society. But the situation remains precarious. With my colleagues in the Caribbean Caucus and powerful advocates such as the New York Immigration Coalition, I have strongly urged DHS to reconsider this ill-advised decision and to work with the government of Haiti to develop a plan that will meaningfully contribute to the recovery."
"We appreciate that this administration acknowledges the clear and compelling evidence supporting extension of TPS for the more than 55,000 Haitians living lawful, productive lives," said Tiffany Wheatland-Disu of the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC). "However, a mere six-month extension falls far short of what is needed. Secretary Kelly's recent 4 hour, limited visit to Haiti raises concerns that he is not committed to a fair and earnest assessment of the actual conditions on the ground. The NYIC will continue to stand with Haitians and allies to call upon Secretary Kelly to support Haitian recovery efforts and extend TPS for a full 18 months."
"The recent six-month extension of Temporary Protected Status for Haitians seeking refuge in the U.S. falls far short of what is needed – a full 18-month extension," said Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs. "That is why through this Weekend of Faith, MOIA alongside our coalition partners are working to urge Secretary Kelly to renew TPS for Haiti for the full 18 months, allowing nearly 50,000 Haitian nationals to remain in the U.S., and connect the Haitian community in NYC with free, safe immigration legal services."
On May 22, 2017, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly announced the extension of Temporary Protected Status for Haiti for an additional six months, effective July 23, 2017 through January 22, 2018. Secretary Kelly's statements since this extension have created uncertainty regarding whether the Department of Homeland Security would grant an additional extension past January 2018. This uncertainty demonstrates the urgency for Haitian TPS recipients to receive immigration legal services as soon as possible in order to determine their legal options moving forward, which may include re-applying for TPS or filing for other forms of immigration relief.
One such option for New Yorkers is ActionNYC, the City's premier program for free and secure immigration legal services – New Yorkers can call 311 and ask for "ActionNYC" to schedule an appointment. Another option is iAmerica – through their website, immigrant families from across the country can look through iAmerica's databases to access immigration legal services as well as other important information and tools in their communities. Many additional City services and resources are available to immigrant New Yorkers regardless of immigration status, including health care, public education, public safety, as well as emergency food and shelter.
The Weekend of Faith also included an advocacy component, encouraging New York City's Haitian communities and other concerned New Yorkers to call on the White House and the Department of Homeland Security to grant a full 18-month extension of TPS for Haitian nationals. Advocates conducted outreach in Haitian communities, passing out flyers with information on effective ways to lobby the federal government to grant a full extension for Haitian TPS.
"As Haiti continues to recover from Hurricane Matthew, Haitian nationals currently residing in the United States need access to a Temporary Protected Status that will protect those in danger of being deported to a devastated country," said Senator Charles E. Schumer. "I am pleased that the Department of Homeland Security heeded my call by extending TPS by six months. This extension is a commonsense and humane action that will help remove a burden of worry from Haitian nationals as their home country continues to recover and I will continue to fight for future extensions until Haiti is fully recovered."
"As Haiti continues to recover from the extensive damage caused by Hurricane Matthew, I encourage all eligible Haitian nationals to apply for TPS by July 24th," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. "I am proud to have fought for an extension of TPS for Haitian nationals in the Senate, and I am very pleased that the State Department and Homeland Security Department complied with my request. I am even more proud that our city continues to be a home to refugees from around the world who need a safe place to stay while their own countries recover from disasters, and we must all do what we can to fight back against any cruel efforts to cut the TPS program."
"The six-month extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for survivors of the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti is a half-measure at best," said Brooklyn Borough President, Eric L. Adams. "The Trump Administration needs to appreciate the struggle of tens of thousands of families in Brooklyn and across America who have lost everything. The threat of losing TPS in six months presents a public safety risk to both of our nations. Our focus ought to be on supporting relief organizations working on the ground to rebuild Haitian communities, and in the meantime providing an 18-month extension, at minimum. It's the smart, sensible, and sensitive approach."
"As my colleagues and I continue on with our campaign demanding additional time for Haitians living in the United States to renew their Temporary Protected Status, I am proud to have the support of local churches and faith leaders," said State Senator Kevin Parker. "We must stand in solidarity to bring awareness and legal support to protect our Haitian community here in Brooklyn and beyond."
"Temporary Protected Status for Haiti must continue to be extended beyond January 2018 and we cannot relent in our forceful advocacy to achieve that goal," said State Senator Jesse Hamilton. "More than 50,000 Haitian immigrants are counting on us to ensure the US pursues a humane policy that recognizes the overwhelming natural disasters that have struck Haiti. In addition, we must continue working to connect our immigrant communities with resources so they can fully exercise their rights – I am proud my office is a 'Sanctuary Senate Office,' and I commend all the partners participating in this Weekend of Action in Faith Communities. I look forward to this whole coalition moving forward together to continue to advocate, to deliver services, and to uphold our tradition of being an inclusive, welcoming city for Haitians and our entire extended immigrant family, friends, and neighbors."
"I wholeheartedly join the call for a full 18-month extension of TPS for Haitians who came to the U.S. following the devastating earthquake in 2010," said Assemblyman Nick Perry. "I would also like to take this opportunity to ask the U.S. to offer a true humanitarian response to those so dreadfully effected by the earthquake and continue my appeal for an amnesty bill to be enacted as expeditiously as possible. Amnesty for Haitians in the U.S. would enable them to contribute to the rebuilding of their homeland and live outside the shadows here in the U.S."
"Along with many community organizations, faith leaders, labor organizations, the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs and countless members of the Haitian community, I am calling on U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to grant an extension of Haitian TPS for at least 18 months," said Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte. "There are over 58,000 Haitians that are affected by this status, over 58,000 lives that are being toyed with while partisan politics are being played and giving only a 6-month extension is nowhere near a sufficient amount of time to make proper arrangements to uproot ones' life. Let us not forget that Haiti, after the severe earthquake, after Hurricane Matthew which was the worst hurricane Haiti has ever faced and a horrible cholera epidemic which has killed over 10,000 people and left over 800,000 very ill, is not in the condition to receive over 50,000 people and be able to ensure they have a healthy livelihood. The best thing to do for everyone affected and all parties involved is to extend the status for another 18 months."
"While we have won this battle for now, we must continue to work together and strategize on how to help Haiti rebuild itself following a series of natural disasters, and focus on how we can create a path to permanent residency for the thousands of Haitians, who now call the U.S. home," said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams. "I stand committed and ready to advocate for and with the Haitian community for the months and years to come."
"While we appreciate the six month extension of Temporary Protected Status for Haiti that was granted by the Department of Homeland Security, we must continue to advocate for a complete, 18 month renewal of TPS because the conditions in Haiti have not substantially improved since TPS was first designated in 2010," said Council Member Mathieu Eugene. "Unfortunately, Haiti is still reeling from the effects of numerous tropical storms and the 2010 earthquake, which caused such destruction in the country that those who are living here in the United States are not able to return, and the country lacks the infrastructure and resources to receive the 50,000 Haitians living in the United States under TPS. I am so grateful for the many allies, the clergy leaders, the labor unions, the legal service providers, elected officials, community leaders and community groups who are standing together to call for a full extension of TPS."