DHS: TPS Decision on Haiti Is Reckless and Overbroad

Jan 16, 2010, 00:16 ET from Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)

Napolitano Fails to Address Lessons of History

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Friday's announcement by the Obama administration of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals sends the wrong message, is arbitrary, chaotic, political and is likely to touch off a mass exodus from that country, warns the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). While conditions in the country make it impossible for Haitian nationals to return home at this time, granting TPS in this manner is an irresponsible and unnecessary step likely to produce a permanent relocation.

In her announcement late Friday, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano cautioned that it is "tempting for people suffering in the aftermath of the earthquake to seek refuge elsewhere. But attempting to leave Haiti now will only bring more hardship to the Haitian people and nation." That, however, is likely to be precisely the consequence of today's announcement. Moreover, there is no interdiction plan in place by the administration to prevent a large-scale exodus from Haiti, or to provide an off-shore holding facility to detain and repatriate large numbers of people heading for the U.S.

"The administration continues once again to engage in reckless and irresponsible decision-making to satisfy narrow constituencies and the expense of public welfare and national security," said Dan Stein, president of FAIR.  "If DHS can repatriate those interdicted seeking entry to the U.S., as Napolitano claims, why can't they return those already in the U.S. in due course by using the more limited status of suspension of deportation?" he asked.  "The DHS positions make no sense, unless the plan is wholesale relocation of hundreds of thousands or more from Haiti to the U.S.

"At the same time that the administration, other governments and private aid organizations are rushing relief to Haiti, the announcement of TPS is confusing, ad hoc, and provides an inducement for more people to leave," Stein continued. "The primary objective must be to help as many people as possible, not precipitate the transfer of Haiti's population to the United States in an uncontrolled, costly and dangerous flight to Florida."

Based on a long track record, there is little reason to believe that TPS will be temporary. Florida, and other areas of the country where Haitians are likely to settle and remain, will be faced with long-term fiscal and social burdens as TPS is repeatedly extended.

FAIR is calling upon the administration to terminate TPS for other nationalities now where, in some cases, the triggering event occurred as much as a decade ago. "Given the magnitude of the devastation in Haiti, Americans want to extend a helping hand. The administration could increase the capacity and the willingness of communities to provide temporary refuge if there was some certainty that people would be required to return home once the immediate crisis has passed," Stein said. "But it is urgent that the administration send a signal that TPS is a temporary status by ending TPS status for most of the other groups currently holding the status."

Another concern raised by the administration's blanket announcement is that it applies to Haitians who are illegally in the U.S. "The intent of TPS was to allow people who were legally present in the U.S. to remain under circumstances where their return home is impossible. In the case of illegal aliens, they never had any intention to return home even before the earthquake struck. While deportations should be temporarily suspended, there is no reason why people who are in the country illegally should gain legal status as a result of this disaster.

"America needs to respond to the situation in Haiti swiftly and constructively. TPS will do nothing to get Haiti back on its feet and will have long-term negative repercussions for both Haiti and the United States," Stein concluded.

SOURCE Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)