News Stories

The End of Temporary Protected Status for Haitians in SWFL

For 10,000 Haitians in the SWFL community, July 2019 could be the last summer they spend on U.S. soil.

This past May, the Trump Administration announced that Temporary Protected Status (TPS) will be ending for those affected by the 2010 earth in Haiti. That includes almost 60,000 individuals.

To bring a face to that number, we spoke to Ezechiel Jean-Philippe. He came to the U.S. at 17 years old, after being granted residency under TPS. He works at Gulf Coast Medical Center as a medical interpreter, and contributes to the economy by working and paying taxes. Now that he is 25, he isn’t sure what he will do if he ends up deported come 2019.

“It would be really difficult. It would be very drastic.” he said. “It would be more challenging for me to go back [to Haiti] then it [was] for me to come here.”

We then spoke to Indera DeMine. She’s a local immigration attorney. She says that this massive deportation will do more harm than good.

“We have so many Haitian immigrants in the healthcare industry. Nurses. CNAs.”

That means there will be an immense amount of money to be lost.

“[As] an employer, we have to think about 10,000 residents that have been working with us for the past, let’s say seven, eight years,” says Yemisi Oloruntola- Coates, System Director of Diversity and Patient Care Civil Rights of Lee Health.

“Turn over. We have to replace those positions.”

Yemisi goes on to point out that there will be foreclosure on homes, and families may be torn apart from the move.

Some who agree with the Trump administration remind others that TPS means just that – it’s temporary. The U.S. is not obligated to continue to provide residency to immigrants under protected status. Others also believe that keeping immigrants in the United States for too long may pose a threat to national security.

Indera disagrees.

She says TPS recipients are vetted before they are offered temporary status. She also believes the U.S. should feel an obligation to help other countries.

“When you are a leader in the world, considered a super power in the world… there is a responsibility for change.”

Recently, the Department of State issued a travel warning for Haiti. This warning was set in place because of security concerns and the lack of adequate medical facilities/response.

This poses a serious question. If U.S. citizens are being advised not to travel to Haiti because of its conditions, why should Haitians?

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