Hurricane-Ravaged Haiti Cannot Support Prospective Deportees, 35,000 of Whom Need Work Permits to Support Families Here and in Haiti, Says FIU Legal Clinic

MIAMI, FL, November 25, 2009—More than a year after four tropical storms ravaged Haiti, flooding vast areas, destroying infrastructure, and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless, the United States Government still refuses to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitian nationals residing in the US.

“Denying TPS to Haitian nationals in the US violates numerous international human rights standards and is blatantly discriminatory,” say Julian Geraci, a third-year law student and student attorney at Florida International University College of Law Carlos A. Costa Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, a non-profit organization providing immigration services and tackling human rights issues. “We are petitioning the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to grant a hearing and strongly recommend that the United States grants TPS to Haitians.”

Recently, TPS has been the center of controversy in immigration issues affecting Haitians residing in the US. Despite devastation due to natural disaster, Haitians have been continually denied TPS, while other similarly situated nations—such as Nicaragua and Honduras—have benefited from TPS since 1998.

TPS is a special, temporary immigration status that is granted to non-criminal foreign nationals residing in the U.S. whose home countries are unable to accept deportees due to civil or political unrest or natural disaster. Recipients of TPS are also permitted work authorization so they can support themselves and their families.

“TPS is a win-win for Haiti and for the United States,” says LaShawn Thomas, a third year law student at the Florida International University College of Law, responding to baseless fears that granting TPS to Haitians would encourage emigration. “With a strict cut-off date, TPS simply precludes deportations to a devastated nation struggling to recover from last year’s natural disasters.  In addition to allowing Haitians to work to support their families and send remittances back home to as many as 350,000 persons in Haiti, TPS will also help Haiti’s struggling democracy in its recovery efforts and decrease despair.”

During his campaign, President Obama promised immigration reform and was fully informed of the merits of Haitian TPS due to the storms. But nearly a year into his Administration, he has failed to act. “35,000 non-criminal Haitians are not permitted the dignity of the right to work.  They can no longer be kept waiting,” Geraci added.

On November 30, 2009, the final day of the Atlantic hurricane season, the FIU Immigration and Human Rights Clinic will file its petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Haiti’s struggling democratic government continues to request TPS from the Obama Administration because Haiti has not recovered from last year’s events.  Unlike other groups, Haitians have never received TPS despite meriting it in the past.  It’s time for the double standard to end and for the Administration to act in the best interest of both nations.

To announce the filing of the petition and raise awareness of the need for TPS for Haitians, a press conference will be held at the FIU Modesto Maidique Campus on November 30, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. in the large courtroom of the College of Law.

Contact: Julian Geraci
Office: (305) 3487541

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Stumbleupon Tumblr Email