New York, NY – 1199SEIU members, elected officials, and Haitian community leaders announced a new campaign, “Protect TPS, Protect DREAMERS” on Friday January 11, – the ninth anniversary of the earthquake that killed more than 200,000 Haitians.
The Trump Administration has ended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians, Hondurans, Nicaraguans, and Salvadorans. There are approximately 300,000 TPS recipients, including 26,000 New Yorkers. Many are Haitians, displaced by the devastating earthquake of 2009. A broad based group of unionists, activists, and elected officials is calling on Congress and the judiciary to preserve both TPS and the Dream Act, which allows the children of those who came to the US illegally to remain in the US.
1199SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Maria Castaneda says deporting these recipients is sending them back to a country unable to absorb them. “Haitians who came after the 2009 earthquake have integrated into our communities and have made positive contributions to our life and culture. Many have children. Terminating TPS means separating families, something the federal government has no business doing. The Dreamers are young people who have skills this economy needs and they should be allowed to stay and pursue a path to legalization.”
Brooklyn Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte [D-42nd District] is the first Haitian American to be elected to the state legislature from New York City. She questions the legality of the administration’s positions on TPS. “The actions of the Trump Administration to end TPS for Haitians is not only unconstitutional, but inhumane. As an elected official who represents most of New York City’s TPS population which is the largest in the state, I stand with 1199SEIU to fight tooth and nail in support of the lawsuit Saget vs. Trump to stop the unlawful termination of TPS and the racial injustices against Haitian people.”
Ketlie Numa is a registered nurse who has worked with a number of TPS recipients. She says there’s uncertainty in the community. “I’m not sure what will happen. If they are forced to go back to Haiti, they have few if any resources there. Many of them came here with family, so they don’t have many family members to draw on for support in Haiti. They’ve made a life for themselves here in the US. They want to stay here.”
Rep. Nydia Velasquez has been a stalwart in legislative efforts to address the Haitian TPS issue. “Nine years after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, many of our neighbors from that country have established roots and become part of our community. We must work in both Congress and the Courts in opposing the Trump Administration’s policies that target these vulnerable immigrants. I have authored the American Promise Act, legislation to provide a path to citizenship for TPS beneficiaries and will be working with my colleagues on a larger package of bills to address this issue and DACA.”
1199SEIU and its partners in the campaign are vowing to keep the pressure on both members of Congress and the Administration to keep these populations protected.