In yet another depiction of the nation’s flawed immigration policies, the Obama administration is extending a humanitarian measure designed to temporarily shield illegal immigrants from deportation during emergencies for the fifth time in five years. It’s officially known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS) but should be renamed permanent-or at least long-term-protected status.
It involves tens of thousands of Haitians, who were originally granted TPS after an earthquake devastated the poverty-stricken Caribbean island in 2010. Then Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the benefit would last only 18 months and be limited to Haitian nationals who were in the United States as of January 12, 2010. The goal, according to Napolitano was to provide a “temporary refuge for Haitian nationals who are currently in the United States and whose personal safety would be endangered by returning to Haiti is part of this Administration’s continuing efforts to support Haiti’s recovery.”
More than five years later the Obama administration continues to allow the same group of foreigners, who would otherwise be deported, remain in the U.S. under the never-ending “temporary” measure. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson made it official this week, extending TPS for Haitians an additional 18 months, through July 22, 2017. This will grant Haitians authorization to work in the U.S. and receive other taxpayer-funded benefits. “Haiti was initially designated for TPS on Jan. 21, 2010, after a major earthquake devastated the country,” the government announcement reads. “Following consultations with other federal agencies, the Department of Homeland Security has determined that current conditions in Haiti support extending the designation period for current TPS beneficiaries.”
Last year Johnson extended an existing TPS for Haitian nationals with no explanation or earthquake sob story mentioned in the official announcement. Previous to that, Napolitano renewed the measure every year after originally implementing it following the earthquake. This is referred to as a “re-designation”in the various DHS announcements. It allows at least 60,000 Haitians who should be deported to live and work in the U.S. Their children, of course, get a free education and other public benefits compliments of American taxpayers.
Like droves of foreign nationals from a number of struggling countries, Haitians have entered the U.S. illegally for years because their island nation has long been the poorest in the western hemisphere. However the U.S. has for years generously donated huge sums to Haiti and that includes $4 billion in post-earthquake assistance, according to State Department figures. The money keeps flowing and has helped provide shelter, healthcare, food, energy, education, security, jobs and a number of other essential needs.
Additionally, U.S. and international charities raised enormous sums of money for Haiti earthquake relief efforts. Dozens of groups and their affiliates raised $2.1 billion, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and more than half ($1.43 billion) came from Americans. A group of famous singers also joined forces to record an album (Hope for Haiti Now) that quickly raised tens of millions of dollars for earthquake relief in Haiti.
Haitian illegal immigrants aren’t the only ones who have enjoyed the long-term benefits of the special measure intended to grant only temporary reprieve. Last year the Obama administration extended TPS for tens of thousands of Hondurans and Nicaraguans. The order was originally issued more than a decade and a half ago after a hurricane (Mitch) hit the Central American countries and has been renewed over and over again, illustrating that there’s nothing temporary about these measures. Less than a year ago the Obama administration created an 18-month TPS for African Ebola nations, including Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Judicial Watch will monitor it upon its scheduled expiration and report if it gets extended like many of the others.