In response to the deadly earthquake that recently hit Haiti, immigration TPS has been approved by United States immigration officials for Haitians who were physically present in the US before the day of the earthquake.

What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?

When used in the US immigration field, temporary protected status (or TPS) is a temporary immigration status granted by the US government to foreign nationals who are unable to return to their home country due to destruction, humanitarian crisis or political unrest.  If designated by the US government to be eligible for TPS, citizens of that country must still meet the TPS requirements as outlined in INA section 244 and8 CFR 244 for Temporary Protected Status. For most people who are in the United States unlawfully, temporary protected status (TPS) gives them permission to live and work here for a limited amount of time.

Why is TPS for Haiti a good idea?

Foreign nationals who are in the United States without authorization are deportable. They are generally not allowed to work, and live in constant fear of being picked up by US immigration authorities (ICE) and sent home. Prior to the earthquake of January 12, Haitians in the US unlawfully were in the same boat. However, now that the earthquake has destroyed a huge part of Haiti, deporting a person back to Haiti would actually be harmful to the Haitian recovery effort as all available disaster resources will be needed for the people who were affected by the earthquake. In fact, US immigration officials recently suspended deporting anyone back to Haiti.

Granting TPS for Haitians is the right thing to do, both for the foreign national and for the people currently in Haiti. Conditions in some parts of Haiti are so primitive that it would be inhumane to force a person to go back there right now. Further, that person would likely increase the burden on  the food, water, and medicine supply that the US is sending to Haiti for the victims of the quake.  Haiti TPS is a way for the US to limit the amount of humanitarian assistance that will need to be provided by not increasing the number of people living there. Finally, since those on Haitian TPS will be allowed to work, it is the hope of the US government that money generated from TPS Haitians working in the US will be sent home to relatives and friends in Haiti to help with the recovery and rebuilding process.