The Biden administration on Saturday granted humanitarian protection for Haitians in the United States, allowing an estimated 100,000 people to apply to remain lawfully in the US, according to the Department of Homeland Security and an administration official.
The decision will allow Haitians in the US the opportunity to apply for Temporary Protected Status — a form of humanitarian relief that can be granted when it is deemed unsafe to return to one’s home country.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced a new 18-month designation for the humanitarian program. Eligible Haitian nationals currently residing in the US as of May 21 will be able to apply for the protections.
“Haiti is currently experiencing serious security concerns, social unrest, an increase in human rights abuses, crippling poverty, and lack of basic resources, which are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mayorkas said in a statement.
President Joe Biden tweeted a link to the announcement Saturday, writing, “Today my Administration announced a new 18 month designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti.”
BuzzFeed was the first to report on the decision.
The decision was met with praise from advocates and applauded by Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez.
“As Haiti passes through an acute political and security crisis and faces enduring humanitarian challenges, this decision provides urgently needed protections for eligible Haitians in the United States,” the New Jersey Democrat said in a statement.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the move “welcome news” in a Saturday evening statement and pushed for immigration reform.
“It is imperative that the Dream and Promise Act, passed by the House, is enacted, so that we can provide a path to permanent residence and eventual citizenship to TPS holders,” she said.
In January 2018, the Trump administration announced it would terminate Haiti’s TPS designation, but several lawsuits challenged that termination.
TPS for Haiti remains in effect because of the pending court challenges, DHS said.