Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly during a quick four hour trip to Haiti seemed to shoot down any chance of extending TPS for some 58,000 Haitians in the US when he met with Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and other senior government officials on Wednesday.
Kelly, who was in Haiti largely to discuss the repatriation of returning Haitian nationals, reiterated that the program is meant to be temporary in nature and added that Haiti is showing significant signs of recovery following the 2010 earthquake, including the recent decision by the United Nations to withdraw the UN Mission for Stabilization in Haiti (MINUSTAH) in October 2017 and the inauguration of President Moïse in February 2017.
Kelly also discussed the Moïse Administration’s plans to draw Haitian nationals currently residing in the United States back to the country, where their skills and capital can be used to help expand the Haitian economy.
Kelly’s Haiti trip came as the Trump Department of State on May 22nd warned U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of traveling to Haiti due to its current security environment and lack of adequate medical facilities and response. The latest travel advisory warns against travel to the areas of Petionville and the storm-damaged southern peninsula departments of Grand Anse and Sud and replaces the Travel Warning dated November 4, 2016.
The latest Haiti travel warning says the US remains concerned about the security situation in the southern peninsula departments of Grand Anse and Sud following the devastation of Hurricane Matthew and medical care infrastructure, ambulances, and other emergency services throughout Haiti.
The US State Department also noted that rates of kidnapping, murder, and rape in the Caribbean island rose in 2016 and kidnapping for ransom can affect anyone in Haiti, particularly long-term residents and that armed robberies and violent assaults reported by U.S. citizens have risen in recent years.
Kelly though through a DHS statement also on May 22nd told Haitian immigrants to “use the time before Jan. 22, 2018 to prepare for and arrange … departure from the United States.”
The U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, (CIS), also repeated this in their notice advising Haitian beneficiaries on how to re-register.
“During this six-month extension, beneficiaries are encouraged to prepare for their return to Haiti in the event Haiti’s designation is not extended again, including requesting updated travel documents from the government of Haiti,” the statement issued on May 24, 2017 said.
Haitians who supported for and voted for Trump in the US Presidential election last Fall have expressed disappointment with the administration’s announcement on TPS and said Trump broke his promise to them when he told them last September in Little Haiti in Miami, he would be their “champion.”