For Immediate Release: May 17, 2017
MAYORS ISSUE LETTER URGING THE ADMINISTRATION TO EXTEND TPS FOR HAITIANS
Cities for Action leaders call on the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State to extend TPS for Haitians.
WASHINGTON – In the wake of a decision by the Department of Homeland Security on the future of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians, 13 mayors and a county executive issued a letter today to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging them to extend TPS for the Haitian community. The letter discusses the contributions of Haitian residents to these cities and the significant impact to local economies if Haitian TPS were to be terminated. The letter also mentions the significant deterioration in living conditions in Haiti, since TPS was originally designated in 2010, as a result of Hurricane Matthew last year which led to delays in recovery efforts.
In 2010, the federal government designated Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) following a devastating earthquake that killed over 200,000 people and caused severe damage to the country’s infrastructure. TPS allows individuals from certain countries to remain in the U.S. if it is unsafe to return to their home country due to a severe humanitarian emergency there. As many as 50,000 Haitians living across the United States will be forced to leave the country if the program is not extended.
The mayors who have signed today's letter to Secretaries Kelly and Tillerson are part of Cities for Action, a coalition of over 150 cities and counties leading on immigration action and immigrant inclusion efforts.
“The Boston metro area is home to the third largest Haitian community in the United States. There are 16,000 Haitian immigrants and nationals who live in the City of Boston, and many more come to Boston for work and leisure every day from neighboring cities and towns. The Haitian diaspora has enriched and strengthened our City in immeasurable ways. Failure to extend TPS for Haiti would have a negative impact on the U.S. and Haitian economies, endangering lives, further destabilizing Haiti, and potentially separating families.” – Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh
“I had the opportunity to visit Haiti last summer and the City of Champaign and our residents have a relationship with the people and government in the Kenscoff region there. I remain concerned about dangerous and unlivable conditions that persist in some areas of Haiti and that were present even before this most devastating hurricane. Extending TPS would among other things protect our Haitian immigrant residents from having to return to unsafe and unsanitary conditions. I strongly urge extension of TPS.” – Champaign Mayor Deborah Feinen
“The United States extended its support to Haitians who had been devastated by the 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people, and left more than a million people homeless. To turn our back on them now would go against everything our country stands for,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “In Chicago, we will continue to offer our support and we will continue fighting to ensure that this country and this city remains a welcoming beacon of hope to innocent refugees who seek to a better life.”- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
“Haitians living in the U.S. under TPS are here because the home they once knew no longer exists. Terminating their status and forcing them to return to a country with dangerous conditions is against everything our country stands for. In New York City alone we have over 125,000 Haitians, many of whom could be impacted if TPS is not extended. It is our job to protect them, which is exactly what we’re urging the White House to do.” – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
“Philadelphia continues to fully support this request to extend the TPS status for the 50,000 displaced Haitians to remain in the U.S. Recognizing the perilous circumstances that bought them to the U.S., I urge the federal government to take this action in ensuring that families can remain together.” – Philadelphia Mayor James Kenney
“Thousands of Haitians have come to the United States seeking stability while their home is in chaos and we must do what we can to ensure their safety and security. I encourage the Departments of State and Homeland Security to think of the human needs of Haitians living in the United States and extend their temporary protected status.” – Syracuse Mayor Stephanie A. Miner
“Protecting human rights is assuredly among DC values, and as an international city, we cherish our diversity and welcome people from around the globe. When faced with a humanitarian crisis, temporary protected status affords needed refuge for those affected by it, and that is why I am proud to stand with mayors across the country to support a continued commitment to the people of Haiti.” - Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser
Below is the full text of the letter from Cities for Action:
The Honorable Rex Tillerson
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
The Honorable John Kelly
Secretary of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
3801 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20528
May 17, 2017
Dear Secretaries Kelly and Tillerson:
On behalf of the over 200,000 Haitian-born community members living in our cities, we urge you to extend the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Haiti before it expires on July 22, 2017. Doing so would benefit our cities by ensuring that Haitian immigrant families in our communities may remain together and that Haitian immigrants with TPS would be protected from having to return to a country where dangerous conditions persist.
As local leaders, we have an interest in ensuring the vibrancy of our economies and the health and safety of all our residents, including our immigrant residents. Immigrants make our communities stronger economically, social, and culturally. We promote these interests through Cities for Action, a coalition of over 150 mayors and county executives that advocates for policies to welcome and embrace our foreign-born residents.
Terminating TPS for the approximately 50,000 Haitians who currently have it would significantly impact local economies and communities. Our Haitian immigrant residents work, pay taxes, and contribute to our cities every day. They are ingrained in every aspect of our cities as they own small businesses, serve in our governments, and work in our hospitals and schools. A decision to terminate TPS would not only affect those who currently have Haitian TPS, but negatively impact their family members, employers, and communities as well.
Extending TPS would also protect our Haitian immigrant residents from returning to dangerous and unlivable conditions. Haiti first received TPS designation because of the devastating impacts of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in 2010. With rebuilding efforts from the earthquake still incomplete, Hurricane Matthew struck the country in October of last year, undoing much of the recovery effort and causing immense loss of life. The country remains devastated, suffering from severe food shortages and a significant deterioration of living conditions. Additionally, cholera remains rampant and deadly –it has killed over 10,000 people and sickened hundreds of thousands more since the earthquake. 2,000 new cholera cases were reported in just the period of February to mid-March of this year. TPS was designed specifically to protect residents of our communities during humanitarian emergencies— the extension of its designation for Haitians would be in the best interest of our cities and our country at large.
Local governments have a considerable interest in extending Haitian TPS, keeping immigrant families together, and preventing members of our communities from being forced to return to dangerous conditions. Therefore, we urge you to uphold our nation’s position as a humanitarian leader by continuing protections for Haitian immigrants and allowing them to remain temporarily within our country through an extension of TPS.
Martin J. Walsh, Mayor of Boston, MA
E. Denise Simmons, Mayor of Cambridge, MA
Deborah Frank Feinen, Mayor of Champaign, IL
Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago, IL
Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, CA
Isiah Leggett, County Executive of Montgomery County, MD
Tomás Regalado, Mayor of Miami, FL
Ras Baraka, Mayor of Newark, NJ
Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City, NY
James F. Kenney, Mayor of Philadelphia, PA
Joseph Curtatone, Mayor of Somerville, MA
David Martin, Mayor of Stamford, CT
Stephanie Miner, Mayor of Syracuse, NY
Muriel Bowser, Mayor of Washington, D.C.