Trump/Pence Regime Announces Intention to Deport Thousands of Haitians

November 21, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |



On November 20, the fascist Trump/Pence regime announced that it intends to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for about 59,000 Haitian immigrants. This means that as of July 2019, if this order stands, those people will be subject to immediate arrest and deportation. 

TPS provides a legal status to immigrants in the U.S. from a small number of designated countries who are deemed unable to safely return to their homelands because of natural disasters or armed conflicts. TPS temporarily protects people from deportation even though they lack legal status as permanent residents, and enables them to obtain work permits.

In 2010, much of Haiti was leveled by a powerful earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people. About 1.5 million people were injured, and an equal number left homeless. Roads, power lines, and sources of drinkable water were obliterated in the already impoverished country. The meager sanitation system collapsed. Repeated cholera outbreaks killed thousands and infected hundreds of thousands of people.

The U.S. recognized the unavoidable fact that Haiti was unsafe to return to, and granted TPS status to tens of thousands of Haitians already here, and to thousands more who were able to flee in the months after the disaster. In the seven years since, most of these immigrants have been working, mainly at low-paying jobs in New York and in the tourist enclaves of Florida. Many arrived as children and are now teenagers and young adults who have spent most of their lives in this country.

Now all of them are being told they will have to get out. A single mother of three children told the Miami Herald, “I do not believe I will survive one month in Haiti. I’ve been here for so long. My whole life is here...This is home, so when they tell you to go back, where am I going to?”

Part of a Broader Assault

This attack against Haitians is part of a broader assault on TPS by the Trump/Pence regime. This month, a spokesperson for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the State Department recommends ending TPS for people from several countries in the Caribbean and Central America. The website Vox reported, “The administration will make decisions about their fates over the next few months. And it’s expected to tell all of these people that they’re no longer welcome.”

In October, the Department of Homeland Security ended TPS for people from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. This month, it announced that 2,500 Nicaraguans driven from their homes by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 will not have their TPS renewed and have to leave the country within 14 months; and 57,000 Hondurans forced from their homes by the same storm were recently told their status will be “reviewed” in six months. A Trump official announced this month that “it is possible that the TPS designation for Honduras may be terminated with an appropriate delay at the end of the 6-month period.”

Lying Pretexts for Ethnic Cleansing

An unnamed “senior official” in Trump’s regime told the Washington Post that these decisions just reflect that the original horrific conditions that gave rise to a TPS designation no longer exist: “The law is relatively explicit that if the conditions on the ground do not support a TPS designation, then the secretary must terminate the TPS designation.” In other words, these countries are now being declared “stable” and “safe” for people’s return.

This is utter bullshit, a thin attempt to cover what amounts to the ethnic cleansing of 300,000 mainly Black and Brown people by the fascist Trump/Pence regime over the next year and a half. People living here legally. People who have suffered incalculably already. People whose home countries were ransacked and shredded by decades of U.S. domination. (See article “Truth Amidst the Rubble in Haiti: The U.S. is the Problem, Not the Solution.”)

In the case of Haiti, less than two months before the State Department declared it safe for Haitians to return, it issued a “Haiti Travel Warning” to U.S. citizens, warning them to “carefully consider the risks of traveling to Haiti due to its current security environment and lack of adequate medical facilities and response.” Even this only hints at the bitter reality behind the regime’s outrageous claims of “stability” in Haiti.

Haiti remains one of the poorest countries on earth. The website Foodtank: The Think Tank for Food reported that nearly one-third of the country’s population was “food insecure” in early 2016—before two major hurricanes tore across the island and further devastated its agriculture. Nearly a quarter of its people live on less than $1.23 a day. People being deported back to Haiti from the Dominican Republic, with which Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola, are having enormous difficulty finding jobs or homes.

Homeless, destitute children crowd the cities. And as one young woman said, “The hardest thing is finding a job.” People are struggling to get by any way they can, often relying on money from relatives in the U.S. and Canada to close the gap between extremely low-wage jobs and outright starvation. One quarter of Haiti’s national income comes from these remittances, which will now be reduced as people are deported.

The regime is also trying to justify its ethnic cleansing by portraying Haitians as criminals. According to the Associated Press, when John Kelly was head of Homeland Security (before he became Trump’s chief of staff), one of his underlings directed her department to find out “how often Haitians with temporary status have been convicted of ‘crimes of any kind,’ and how many have taken advantage of public benefits.”

Kelly must know that people can’t continue in TPS if they have been convicted of even minor offenses. As Randolph McGrorty of Catholic Legal Services in South Florida pointed out, “If you have two misdemeanors, no matter how minor, or one felony, you’re not eligible for TPS,” and once in the program, “they have to demonstrate [a clean record] every 18 months.” Kelly is probably also aware that 80 percent of Haitians in this country are employed.

These attempts to paint Haitians as criminals have nothing to do with the truth. It is about trying to portray a whole group of people as “criminals,” in order to justify committing great crimes against them.

Urgently Needed: Massive Protest

People have already begun protesting Trump’s announcement. On Tuesday, November 21, hundreds of people of different nationalities protested Trump’s attacks on TPS at his Mar-a-Lago resort in south Florida, where he is spending the holiday, and there were protests in several other cities. More protests are planned, including a demonstration in Washington, D.C. in early December.

The attack on TPS and other white-supremacist assaults are part and parcel of what Trump means when he says he is putting “America First.” They must be opposed by growing numbers of people of all backgrounds and nationalities. And the fascist regime pushing these vicious attacks must be driven from power.




Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.