Marleine Bastien says she can finally breathe a deep sigh of relief after years of hard work.
The Biden administration announced Saturday that it would redesignate temporary protected status to eligible Haitians who currently live in the U.S.
“These families will go to bed tonight knowing that they will be able to stay,” said Bastien, executive director of Family Action Network Movement.
“They don’t have to fret about the next day.”
Bastien, who works with low-income families in Little Haiti, says the announcement will mainly help those who came to the US after the 2010 earthquake.
But soon after, many were deported.
She says political turmoil in Haiti makes deportation too dangerous.
“Deporting people in these conditions could be harmful,” Bastien said. “Women and girls have been kidnapped, raped. We’ve had state-sponsored massacres going on, the killing of political opponents.”
Close to 2,000 Haitian immigrants have been deported since February.
“Can you imagine going to bed everyday and wanting to know what are you going to do?” Bastien said.
“How are you going to pack 7, 30 years of life into suitcases and be deported when the nation’s in turmoil?”
Those who apply for TPS have to prove that they moved to the U.S. before May 22. If approved, the status would last up to 18 months.
“They will be able to obtain work permits and work here,” Bastien said.
Local leaders say the decision was long overdue for a community which has contributed so much to the U.S. and to South Florida.
“Haitians have helped build modern Miami and with this announcement, they have the security to continue that momentum,” said Randy McGrorty, Executive Director Catholic Legal Services Archdiocese of Miami.
“It is a recognition of the contributions of the Haitian community to South Florida. We applaud the administration.” Immigrants who are eligible can apply for TPS within the next six months.