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Deporting Displaced Haitians "Doesn't Solve The Problem," Says Union Official

United Nations Development Programme
Haitians displaced by the 2010 earthquake have been able to live and work in the United States under a temporary protected status.

The Department of Homeland Security has issued a six-month extension of temporary protected status (TPS) for thousands of Haitians. This allows them to live and work legally in the U.S.

TPS status was granted to eligible Haitians after the island's catastrophic earthquake in 2010.

Then, a hurricane devastated parts of Haiti in 2016. 

Federal officials now say conditions on the island have improved, and they’re signaling that the TPS program for Haitians could end in January. 

Thousands of people may be deported back to the island.

Many Haitians living in Connecticut work at airports, in building services, and restaurants -- industries represented by 32BJ Service Employees International Union.

Alberto Bernandez, assistant district supervisor for Connecticut, said the extension is not long enough.

"It doesn’t solve the problem," said Bernandez. "We’re talking about in six months going back to Haiti still affected by the devastation of the Hurricane Matthew. We know there is an outbreak of cholera back in Haiti and Haiti is still the poorest country in our hemisphere."

And he said that residents with TPS status from several Central American countries may also soon face deportation.

"From Honduras, people from Salvador… and similar to what happened in Haiti, we have a huge problem of crime in Honduras for example and from El Salvador," said Bermudez. "Those members of our community living over here will be in grave danger if they are forced to return to the situation that made them come here in the first place."

More than one in five Haitian TPS holders are parents of U.S. born children.

In a statement this week, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly urged Haitian TPS recipients to use the time before January to prepare for and arrange their departure from the U.S.

Diane Orson is a special correspondent with Connecticut Public. She is a longtime reporter and contributor to National Public Radio. Her stories have been heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Here And Now. Diane spent seven years as CT Public Radio's local host for Morning Edition.

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