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US Grants Temporary Protected Status to Illegal Haitians

By Kamika Dunlap on January 19, 2010 10:10 AM

Amnesty has been granted to Haitians immigrants living illegally in the United States before last week's earthquake that rocked the Caribbean country.

Temporary protected status (TPS), however does not apply to Haitians who may try now to get into the U.S., officials said.

According to the Wall Street Journal, TPS has been granted to refugees from other countries including El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Somalia and Sudan. But TPS has never been granted to Haitian refugees despite calls for relief following hurricanes and civil strife.

The earthquake was the worst in the region in more than 200 years. The international Red Cross fears that as many as 50,000 people have died and untold numbers are still trapped.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned that no new arrivals would get amnesty and authorities would move quickly to stop new migrants. She stressed Haitians living in the island would be repatriated if they attempted to enter the country.

Napolitano estimates there are 100,000-200,000 illegal Haitians immigrants in the U.S. who could benefit from TPS status. The status grants the Haitians amnesty for 18 months.

Since the earthquake, many advocates and immigrants rights groups have been pushing for temporary protected status.

As previously discussed, under TPS, the special status lasts 18 months, and allows undocumented Haitians to get work permits and send much-needed dollars back home.

Although shielded from deportation, Haitian TPS holders cannot become permanent U.S. residents or U.S. citizens.

The majority of the two million Haitians living abroad reside in the U.S., Canada, France or the Dominican Republic.

Since the earthquake, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has halted the deportation of Haitians.

France and the Dominican Republic also have suspended expelling illegal immigrants from Haiti.

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