The United States of America has decided to end the temporary residency permit program that has allowed almost 60,000 citizens from Haiti to live and work in the United States since a 2010 powerful earthquake shook the Caribbean nation, Luis Alonso Lugo of The Independent reports.
The Homeland Security Department says conditions in Haiti have improved significantly, so the benefit will be extended one last time until July 2019 to give Haitians time to prepare to return home.
Advocates and members of Congress from both parties had asked the Trump administration for an 18-month extension of the program, known as Temporary Protected Status because conditions in the island nation haven’t improved nearly enough for Haitians to be deported. Haitian President Jovenel Moise‘s government also requested the extension.
While Haiti has made advances spurred by international aid since the earthquake, the Caribbean nation remains one of the poorest in the world. More than 2.5 million people, roughly a quarter of the population, live on less than $1.23 a day, which authorities consider extreme poverty.
The United Nations last month ended a peacekeeping mission in Haiti that, at its peak, included more than 10,000 troops. Its new mission is comprised of about 1,300 international civilian police officers and 350 civilians who will help the country try to reform a deeply troubled justice system.
The Homeland Security Department made its announcement 60 days before temporary status for the Haitians is set to expire. In May, the agency extended the program for only six months instead of the customary 18 and urged Haitians under the program to get their affairs in order and prepare to go home.
The temporary status covers some 435,000 people from nine countries ravaged by natural disasters or war, who came to the US legally or otherwise. Days after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti in January 2010, President Barack Obama granted the 18-month protection status for Haitians in America who would otherwise have to go home. Obama renewed it every time it ran out.
Monday’s decision doesn’t affect thousands of Haitians who were taken in by Brazil and other South American countries after the earthquake and began making their way to the United States last year.