U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) today led a group of a dozen U.S. senators in calling on the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to explain what they call a “deeply troubling and potentially politically motivated” decision to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians in the United States.
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and USCIS Director Lee Francis Cissna, the senators point to an Oct. 2017 USCIS report that described current conditions in Haiti as “vulnerable to external shocks and internal fragility,” and further concluded that Haiti is “unable to adequately respond to a wide range of persistent humanitarian needs.”
Yet, despite its own assessment, one month later USCIS and Homeland Security rescinded TPS for 58,000 Haitians in the U.S and characterized the situation on the island as no longer needing the designation.
“The November 2017 decision to terminate Haiti’s TPS designation marked a stunning reversal of this assessment of the conditions in Haiti,” the senators wrote. “Moreover, in light of the president’s widely reported offensive comments about Haiti and African nations being ‘s***hole countries,’ these documents raise serious questions regarding whether the Administration’s decision to terminate Haiti’s TPS was based on the conditions in Haiti – as required by law – or whether the decision resulted from broader political concerns, including an animus towards the country and its nationals.”
The senators called for the immediate reconsideration of the administration’s decision to terminate Haiti’s TPS designation.
In addition to Nelson and Markey, the letter was signed by U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Tina Smith (D-MN) Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL).
The lawmakers’ letter can be found here.