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Legal Daily News Feature

Homeland Security Announces Temporary Protected Status to Haitians

By Christine Cristiano In the aftermath of the earthquake on January 12th that killed thousands of Haitians and left millions homeless, Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security Secretary, announced that Haitians who were in residing in the U.S at the time of the earthquake in Haiti will be granted an 18-month amnesty.

01/20/10 Napolitano announced that the new changes will apply to Haitians whether they were illegal immigrants or legal visitors to the country. The Temporary Protected Status (TPS) will apply to those who were already in the U.S. on Jan. 12. However, Napolitano also pointed out that individuals that flee to the U.S. will be sent back. After the 18 month amnesty, the U.S. government will decide on whether or not it will extend the period for the affected Haitians. Napolitano was quick to point out that the TPS does not apply to new arrivals and hopes to avoid problems in which the TPS would ‘turn into a magnet’. Napolitano commented that ‘’there may be an impulse to leave the island to come here. You will not qualify for TPS status; this is a very dangerous crossing. Lives are lost every time people try to make this crossing.’’ After reports that the U.S. controlled Haitian main airport were turning away flights carrying aid due to inadequate coordination, Napolitano urged individuals and organizations to refrain from chartering aircraft to deliver relief supplies and aid workers into Haiti at this time.

‘’That precious airspace is like gold right now. There will be time for that later on, but right now we are asking that all of that precious airspace be co-ordinated right here, so we meet the highest needs as identified by the Haitian government.’’ Napolitano estimated that 100,000 to 200,000 Haitians may qualify for ‘’intermediate immigration status’’ and commented that ‘’it’s sort of a time-out for Haitians in the United States who can begin to work ... and have some resources then to send back to Haiti itself.’’ Lawmakers across the nation argued that due to the conditions in Haiti and the earthquake’s destruction, Haiti is not in the position to accept deportees and has suggested that Homeland Security extend TPS to Haitians. According to Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida Democrat, ‘’this is the right thing to do. Haitian immigrants already in the U.S. will not only be able to make money to support themselves, but also to send remittances to their suffering families back in Haiti.’’

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Homeland Security Announces Temporary Protected Status to Haitians