USA Today is reporting that the Obama administration is granting a special Temporary Protected Status for 18 months to Haitian nationals who are already in the United States. In Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s statement she said:
This is a disaster of historic proportions and this designation will allow eligible Haitian nationals in the United States to continue living and working in our country for the next 18 months. Providing a temporary refuge for Haitian nationals who are currently in the United States and whose personal safety would be endangered by returning to Haiti is part of this Administration’s continuing efforts to support Haiti’s recovery.
This is much better news than I was expecting to come from Obama. I know we’re all quite skeptical about the other big announcement that Obama is recruiting George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to head Haiti relief work, but this move from Obama is nothing to scoff at. It’s disappointing that it took a disaster of this magnitude to get DHS to listen to activists who have been calling for a moratorium on Haitian deportations for years. But this is great relief. NPR reports that this announcement will affect an estimated 200,000 undocumented Haitians who are in the United States. No word yet on what this means for Haitians like activist Jean Montrevil who have been facing deportation and are currently being held in immigration detention.