South Florida's Haitian community is urging local lawmakers to support legislation that would clear a coveted pathway to citizenship for those living under soon-to-be revoked protections.
The Haitian Women of Miami – officially Fanm Ayisyen nan Miyami, or FANM – advocacy group has increased pressure on members of U.S. Congress to negotiate on immigration legislation that would allow Haitians living in the United States under Temporary Protected Status to work toward naturalization.
President Donald Trump's administration in November announced that TPS would no longer apply to Haiti, which affects about 60,000 Haitians.
“We are asking Congress to act. The time is now because tomorrow there will be no time," FANM Executive Director Marleine Bastien said. "It is time for you to show that you are with us. And, I repeat, the only way you can show that you are with us is through your vote.”
Thousands of Haitians living in the U.S. legally also face employment and travel hurdles because Trump's administration delayed the process of re-registering those with TPS.
Additionally, the Trump administration is moving to prohibit people from Haiti – which the president allegedly insulted in a meeting last week – from applying for visas for seasonal and farm workers.
“He’s removing Haiti from the guest workers program, a program that had helped so many families here in the U.S. and in Haiti. The only program that allowed Haitians to come here legally to work on a permanent basis and return to Haiti," Bastien added. "
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said high rates of rejection, fraud and abuse, as well as Haitians overstaying after program's conclusion.
“They removed eligibility from Haitians for a very important program not only to the Haitians but to our country. They provide necessary seasonal work," Randy McGrorty, from the Catholic Legal Services Archdiocese of Miami, said.