The Biden administration is reviewing whether to extend humanitarian protections to Haitians and other foreign nationals as part of the Temporary Protected Status program, according to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
The acknowledgment comes amid growing pressure from lawmakers and advocates to redesignate Haiti for Temporary Protected Status, a form of humanitarian relief, which can be granted when it is deemed unsafe to return to one’s home country.
Mayorkas said country conditions are “very much under review,” with respect to Haiti and other countries with a lower profile, indicating that the US is also looking at Cameroon and Mauritania for possible protection.
“We’re very mindful of the fact that the conditions in those countries deserve our close review. And that review is well underway,” he said at the UCLA Center for Immigration Law Policy conference Friday.
The Biden administration has already granted protections for Venezuela and Myanmar, marking a shift from the Trump administration, which had sharply criticized TPS and moved to terminate protections the program had provided for immigrants from other countries, arguing that years of extensions were prolonging immigrants’ stays in the United States long after crises abroad had abated.
Nearly 500 advocates, human rights activists, and nonprofit organizations sent a letter this week to the White House calling for the Biden administration to re-designate TPS for Haitians living in the US.
“The Trump Administration tried to end TPS for Haitians, many of whom have been on the frontlines during the coronavirus pandemic and keeping the United States moving forward as our healthcare workers and caregivers, transportation workers and farm workers,” the letter said. “It is imperative that the Biden Administration make things right and redesignate TPS for Haiti immediately.”
Earlier this month, Democratic Rep. Albio Sires of New Jersey and Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida sent a letter to Mayorkas detailing the unsafe issues in Haiti, like food insecurity, gender-based violence and political instability.