House Haiti Caucus Urges Biden to Extend Temporary Immigration Status for Haitians

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Haiti Caucus worries a US immigration program aimed at helping people live in work in the US because they’re unable to return to their home country could potentially send Haitians back to Haiti when the program expires. The Caribbean country has been overwhelmed by gang violence, political and economic instability for years. Congressional members are pushing the Biden Administration to extend that immigration policy for Haitians.  

“Ever since the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise in 2021, Haiti has slowly been slipping into chaos,” said Rep. Yvette Clarke (D- NY).  

“From economic turmoil to violence and political instability and natural disasters, the people of Haiti have had no rest,” said Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D- MA).  

Gang violence and turf wars have hurt Haitians. According to international organizations, 362-thousand Haitians are displaced. A UN worker told us the number of sexual violence climbs each day, making it almost too hard to count. Millions of people in Haiti need food assistance.  

As international organizations continue to monitor the crisis, congressional members are growing more worried about the ongoing situation.  

“We have a moral obligation as policy makers to address them [the issues] head on,” said Rep. Pressley. “We called for an ambassador to be appointed and the senate confirmed Ambassador Dennis Hankins. We called on President Henry to step down and he did just then. We called for additional humanitarian aid and now 33-million dollars has been released to USAID. But our work is unfinished.” 

They are now calling on the Biden administration to extend Haiti’s Temporary Protective Service (TPS). It’s a humanitarian solution for migrants who are unable to return home safely. TPS lets people live and work legally in the US temporarily. According to the Department of Homeland Security, TPS for Haiti expires in August. Members worry if or when TPS expires, many could be sent back to Haiti.  

“We must extend TPS status for Haiti immediately, haulting all deportation flights and knowingly sending people back to imminent danger which contradicts our nations core values,” said Rep. Clarke. “Beyond TPS, we must deliver humanitarian and economic aid, expedite visa processing and crack down on illegal arms trafficking. Most importantly, we mut support a democratic transition led by Haitian civil society.” 

In April, a new transitional ruling council was finalized to try to bring some political stability. According to The New York Times, they’re tasked with restoring law and order through the appointment of an acting prime minister to head a new government as well as to pave the way for the election of a new president.  

“Unfortunately the United States has a history of meddling, interference and destabilization,” said Rep. Clarke. “Restoring leaders and backing dictators. We’ve attempted to impose democratic values from a US context, but the constant leadership meddling and disruptions have made it hard to separate from where US policy ends and Haitian agency begins.” 

While congress’ attention has been focused on wars in Ukraine, Gaza and bolstering security in the Indo Pacific, members said Haiti needs to be the focus.  

“Fund them,” said Rep. Frederica Wilson (D- FL). “Fund them like you fund other countries, fund them.” 

Members tell us they might work on legislation to provide aid for their Caribbean neighbor.  

“This is not charity,” said Rep. Pressley. “This is good foreign policy to help our international neighbor. It is good immigration policy to address the root cause of seeking asylum. It is good economic policy to support our trade partner.”