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US extends relief for undocumented Haitians

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) May 17, 2011
Undocumented Haitians who arrived in the United States in the aftermath of the devastating January 2010 earthquake in their country will be allowed to apply for a special asylum program, US officials said Tuesday.

In the days after the earthquake, President Barack Obama's administration gave Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to thousands of Haitians living in the United States without proper immigration documents.

Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano said Tuesday that immigrants who were in the United States illegally before the quake struck, and up to one year after the quake -- as of January 12, 2011 -- will also be able to obtain TPS.

An immigrant granted TPS can stay legally in the United States through January 22, 2013 without fear of deportation, and following a review of their case, can obtain a temporary work permit.

Newly-elected Haitian president Michel Martelly applauded the decision, which his office said was one of the issues he had raised with the White House in his recent visit to Washington.

"President Michel Joseph Martelly is happy to learn of the Obama admninstration's decision to extend the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for non-resident Haitians living in the United States before January 12," the Haitian president's office said in a statement Tuesday.

Martelly said the decision to allow immigrants with TPS to stay through January 2013 "will allow Haitian institutions to properly prepare for the return of their compatriots and is proof of the already strong collaboration between the two countries on important bilateral matters."

The designation of TPS for eligible Haitians living in the United States since before the quake was originally announced by Napolitano in mid-January 2010.

On Tuesday that designation was also extended to migrants who arrived up to one year after the earthquake.

"Many of these individuals were authorized to enter the United States immediately after the earthquake on temporary visas, humanitarian parole and through other immigration measures," said Napolitano in a statement.

"Haitians who are not currently in the United States... should not attempt to enter the United States illegally to try to take advantage of this benefit," the statement emphasized.

Both the extension and re-designation are effective July 23, the DHS said.

Some 48,000 Haitian nationals with TPS live in the United States, according to DHS figures.

A senior DHS official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there is a concern "that some Haitians may incorrectly think they will be granted TPS if they make it to the United States, or may seek to exploit this policy."

US government policy "concerning migrants rescued or interdicted at sea has not changed," said the official.

The US Coast Guard "will continue using all available resources to deter and dissuade migrants from taking to the sea illegally, and if necessary will detect, intercept and repatriate migrants who make the ill-advised decision" to try to sail to the United States, the official said.

The US Coast Guard is continuing to stop leaky vessels dangerously overloaded with illegal Haitian immigrants: 667 Haitians were intercepted at sea and sent home since October 1, the official said.

"Migrant interdiction missions are as much humanitarian missions as they are border security missions," the official said.

To help stop a possible increase in illegal immigration, the official said that the number of US ships and aircraft patrolling the area for illegal immigrants has been increased.

An estimated 220,000 people died and some 1.5 million became homeless after the January 12 2010 earthquake ravaged the poorest country in the Americas. Most of those impacted by the quake are still living in tents.




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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
US extends relief for undocumented Haitians
Washington (AFP) May 17, 2011
Undocumented Haitians who arrived in the United States in the aftermath of the devastating January 2010 earthquake in their country will be allowed to apply for a special asylum program, US officials said Tuesday. In the days after the earthquake, President Barack Obama's administration gave Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to thousands of Haitians living in the United States without proper ... read more

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