On Dec. 19 US Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff wrote Haitian president René Préval that “[a]fter very careful consideration” he was rejecting the Haitian government’s request for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for undocumented Haitians in the US. This would have allowed the immigrants to remain in the US until Haiti recovered from the two hurricanes and two tropical storms that hit in one month during the summer; the US granted TPS to many Central Americans after hurricane Mitch struck in 1998, and the designation has been renewed ever since. The US briefly suspended deportations to Haiti after the storms but resumed in December. Homeland Security spokesperson Michael Keegan said 28 Haitians had been repatriated since the resumption.
The storms reportedly destroyed 15% of Haiti’s gross domestic product (GDP). “That’s the equivalent of eight to 10 hurricane Katrinas hitting the US in a month’s period of time,” Randy McGrorty, executive director Catholic Legal Services, told the Miami Herald. He said that “after eight years of dealing with this administration and their policy toward Haiti,” he had to think one reason for the rejection was racism. (Miami Herald, Jan. 6; South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Jan. 7)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Jan. 11
See our last post on Haiti and the politics of immigration.