Monday, November 27, 2017

This Week's  Events & Happenings!

Philppe Dubois
Professional Membership


Visit our Facebook Page to view the pictures from our 
"Haiti: Moving from Aid to Trade" Investment Workshop.


Acting DHS Secretary terminates TPS  for Haitians but 
gives 18-month delay!
By Patricia Elizee, Esq.

On November 21, 2017 the acting Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) Elaine Duke announced her decision to terminate the Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for Haitians with a delayed effective date of July 22, 2019. Currently, an estimated 58,000 Haitians are living in the United States with TPS, a special immigration status that is meant to be temporary in nature and given to nationals of countries where the US feels that it would be inhumane to send them back due to natural disasters or civil unrest. Haitians were granted TPS in 2010 after the devastating earthquake that killed over 200,000 people.

According to Secretary Duke's announcement, DHS reviewed the conditions upon which Haiti's original designation was based and found that those extraordinary circumstances caused by the 2010 earthquake no longer exist. In May of 2017, then- Secretary Kelly announced that he believed Haiti no longer warranted an extension for TPS and gave Haitian nationals until January of 2018 to make arrangements to go back to Haiti or face deportation. Current Secretary Duke believes that an 18-month delay with allow an orderly transition. She promised to keep working with the Haitian government to help educate relevant stakeholders and facilitate an orderly transition.

Haitians with TPS will be required to reapply for Employment Authorization Documents in order to work legally in the United States up until 2019. Immigration has yet to publish details of the reapplication process. Haitian nationals benefited from an 18-month delay period while others with TPS did not.

On November 6, 2017, the secretary of Homeland Security announced her decision to terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Nicaragua with an effective date of 12 months to allow an orderly transition before the designation ends on January 5, 2019.  She also determined that additional information is necessary regarding the TPS designation for Honduras and at this time no decision has been made regarding the latter country.  As a consequence, the TPS designation for Honduras will be automatically extended for six more months from the current January 5, 2018 date of expiration to the new expiration date of July 5, 2018.

The decision to terminate the TPS for Nicaragua was made after two conditions were met: (1) the original TPS designation was made after Hurricane Mitch devastated the country in 1999 and this situation is no longer existent; and (2) the Nicaraguan government did not request the extension of the TPS.  Based on this information and recommendations received as part of an inter-agency consultation process, the Acting Secretary determined that the conditions caused by Hurricane Mitch no longer exist, and, under the applicable statute, this protection must end. 

The Acting Secretary also determined that the TPS for Nicaraguan citizens will be delayed 12 months to allow individuals with TPS to seek additional lawful immigration status in the United States, if eligible, or alternatively, prepare for their departure.  It will also allow Nicaragua to prepare for the return and reintegration of their citizens. 

Regarding Honduras, the Acting Secretary determined that additional time is necessary to obtain and assess supplemental information pertaining to the country conditions in Honduras in order to make an appropriate determination on the TPS status.  Based on the lack of information regarding ground conditions compared to pre-Hurricane Mitch, the Acting Secretary has not made a determination at this time therefore the TPS designation for Honduras will be extended for six months, through July 5, 2018.  However, given the current information received for Honduras, it is possible that the TPS designation for this country will be terminated at the end of the automatic extension with an appropriate delay.
Regarding El Salvador, TPS protected status has been extended for the nationals of this country until March 9, 2018 with a pre-registration period from July 8, 2016 through September 6, 2016.  On July 8, 2016, USCIS automatically extended the validity of employment authorization documents (EADs) issued under the last extension of TPS El Salvador for an additional 6 months, through March 9, 2017. On March 6, 2017, USCIS automatically extended the validity period for an additional 6 months, through Sept. 9, 2017.

There are currently more than 300,000 people with TPS in the United States. Some have resided in the U.S. for 19 years! They contribute to the economy. They pay taxes. They raise American families with over 100,000 U.S born children. TPS holders are vetted every year. They have no criminal records. The ASPIRE Act, was introduced to Congress by representatives including Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, "would allow every person covered by TPS on Jan. 1, 2017, to apply for permanent residency before a judge by proving that they would face extreme hardship if they were forced to return to their home country." If it passes, it will allow every person covered by TPS on Jan. 1, 2017, to apply for permanent resident before a judge by proving that they would face extreme hardship if they were forced to return to their home country.

Advocates would argue that it makes both logical and economic sense to renew TPS for TPS holders up until legislation passes that would offer a long-term status to these individuals because it will cost tax payers more money to deport these low priority immigrants than it would to legalize them. 

Patricia Elizee is the immediate past president of the Haitian Lawyers Association, and managing partner of Elizee Law Firm, a Miami-based immigration and family law firm. She can be reached at 305-371-8846, 1110 Brickell Avenue, Suite 315, Miami, Florida.