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Temporary Protected Status for Haitians: not an amnesty card for illegal immigrants

As the leading democracy of the Western Hemisphere, the US should be proud of its efforts to assist Haiti as it emerges from the rubble.

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President Obama suspended the deportation of illegal Haitian immigrants living in the United States almost immediately following the earthquake that leveled Haiti last month.

That compassionate decision was followed quickly by the announcement of a new immigration program granting temporary protective status to up to 200,000 Haitians. This has drawn some criticism from those who misunderstand its purpose and effect.

The last thing we need is to fan the flames of another heated immigration debate in an already divided nation.

Let’s be clear: Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is not an amnesty card for those entering the US illegally.

Mr. Obama’s TPS order permits the 100,000 to 200,000 Haitians essentially trapped in the US after the earthquake to remain here lawfully and to file for work authorization documents.

Yes, approximately 30,000 Haitians who were in removal proceedings will be covered by the status and will receive a temporary reprieve from deportation. Protected status is not, however, forgiveness for arriving or remaining here illegally. To be approved for temporary protective status, Haitian immigrants must submit proof of Haitian citizenship and must show they were in the US before the day the earthquake struck Haiti.

More important, it provides a means for those 100,000-plus Haitians who have followed proper protocol, but whose visa status will soon expire, to remain here while their nation recovers.


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