Van Hollen, Markey, Colleagues Urge TPS Extension and Redesignation for Haiti as Gang Violence, Civil Unrest Force Thousands to Leave
Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) in urging the Biden administration to immediately extend and redesignate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti, which would authorize Haitian nationals in the United States to remain in the country until conditions improve in Haiti. The island nation continues to face compounding crises — escalating gang violence, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, reports of cholera deaths for the first time in three years, and an inability to get humanitarian assistance to more than five million Haitians — that have forced thousands of Haitians to leave their home in growing numbers. The current TPS designation for Haiti is set to expire in February 2023.
The Senators wrote in their letter, “In light of the worsening conditions in Haiti, including prolific gang violence, widespread civil and political unrest since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, and the inability of average Haitians to obtain gasoline, food, water, health care, and other basic necessities, extending and redesignating Haiti’s TPS status is urgently warranted.”
The letter led by Senator Markey was signed, in addition to Senator Van Hollen, by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.).
Full text of the letter can be found here and below.
Dear Secretary Mayorkas and Secretary Blinken:
We write to call for an immediate extension and redesignation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). In light of the worsening conditions in Haiti, including prolific gang violence, widespread civil and political unrest since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, and the inability of average Haitians to obtain gasoline, food, water, health care, and other basic necessities, extending and redesignating Haiti’s TPS status is urgently warranted.
On August 3, 2021, the Biden administration designated Haiti for TPS for a period of 18 months. Since then, the systemic collapse of the country’s economy and the complete erosion of the rule of law, as evidenced by criminal gangs’ control over most aspects of life in Port-au-Prince and other municipalities, have forced Haitians to flee their country in growing numbers. The U.S. Coast Guard reports that its crews interdicted 6,114 Haitian migrants at sea during federal fiscal year 2022, 4,500 more than in the previous fiscal year. Haitians fleeing their homeland often resort to dangerous journeys across the Caribbean Sea, and in July 2022 alone, 17 Haitians died after their vessel capsized off the coast of the Bahamas.
According to Human Rights Watch, “more than a third of Haitians—4.4 million—experience food insecurity . . . and 217,000 children suffer moderate to severe malnutrition.” The United Nations has also reported that the “gang crisis has driven more than 20,000 people from their homes” and has documented “from January to the end of June , 934 killings, 684 injuries and 680 kidnappings” in Port-au-Prince.
The global COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic crisis, the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, and a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in August 2021 have exacerbated Haiti’s daunting challenges of political instability and gang violence. Further compounding this dire situation is Haiti’s recently reported cholera outbreak, with the first case confirmed on October 2, 2022. As of October 16, 2022, there have been 835 suspected cases, 78 confirmed cases, and at least 36 deaths documented. The lack of access to clean water and sanitation, pervasive food insecurity, and inadequate health care has allowed this outbreak to spread rapidly.
Extending and redesignating Haiti for TPS will prevent further hardship and unnecessary loss of life.
Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to your response.
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