In a decision that was widely anticipated, the Trump administration has decided to end immigration protections for Haitians who migrated to the US following a devastating earthquake that laid waste to Haiti back in 2010.
Now, the 50,000 Haitians still living in the US under the protections have 18 months to leave, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
As the Washington Post pointed out, the decision was made to appease immigration hard-liners who insist the program was never intended to grant permanent residency to Haitians who were displaced by the quake.
Per the Los Angeles Times, back in May, John F. Kelly, who was DHS secretary at the time, said that conditions in Haiti had improved enough that the US would be unlikely to continue extending the temporary protection. At the time, he extended Haitians’ protected status for six months, but urged them to prepare to leave the US
Unsurprisingly, many heeded this warning. Following Trump’s upset victory in last year’s election, thousands of Haitians started crossing into Quebec, where they requested asylum. Indeed, the wave of migrants into Canada since the election has strained Canadian public services to the limit and bogged down the country’s system for approving asylum requests, leaving many in an uncomfortable legal limbo. In the meantime, hundreds of Haitians are living in makeshift shelters in Montreal, and elsewhere in the province.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine C. Duke reaffirmed that decision Monday, but provided an 18-month delay, until July 22, 2019, before the order to leave will become effective. Some of the Haitians currently covered by temporary status will be able to stay if they have other claims for legal immigration status, administration officials said.
An estimated 3 million Haitians were affected by the 2010 quake, which had its epicenter near the town of Leogane. Death toll estimates ranged from 100,000 to 160,000.