We, the undersigned organizations, urge you to renew temporary protected status (TPS) for Haitians in the United States. As humanitarian, international development, and human rights organizations, many of which currently provide direct services on the ground in Haiti, we respectfully disagree with the assessment of James W. McCament, Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), that conditions in Haiti no longer support its designation for TPS.
Six months ago, Hurricane Matthew slammed into southwestern Haiti, killing hundreds and affecting 2.1 million people, 20 percent of the country’s population. Despite the extent of devastation and acute vulnerabilities among the affected population, the disaster failed to attract both the financial support and attention it deserved from the international community.
In early October 2016, the Southwest region of Haiti was devastated by Hurricane Matthew, a category four storm. Tragically, the areas it hit were among the poorest. The government reported more than 2.1 million people were affected by the hurricane, with 800,000 in need of urgent food assistance. While four months have passed since Matthew hit, conditions on the ground are not much different today. Haiti faces a long road ahead.
The Dominican Republic (DR) and Haiti share many things—a background of slavery, oppression, dictators, and the island of Hispaniola. Yet, in the DR, a history of racism and prejudice runs deep toward their Haitian neighbors who were often recruited for undesirable work in the DR’s sugarcane fields. In 1932, the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo massacred over 10,000 Haitian sugarcane workers in an attempt to ‘whiten’ the country. Still, Dominicans of Haitian descent have long roots in the DR, and contribute to the economy and society alongside their fellow citizens. But because registration and certification of births were often done on an arbitrary basis, proof of birth in the country has been difficult to verify.