The Miami Herald tells us that something like 200,000 Haitians, now in the U.S., illegally, are going to be given temporary legal status in the U.S. through grants of Temporary Protected Status. The number is much larger than earlier estimates issued by the government, and might be an over statement.
They will be given government-issued work-permits, allowed to stay 18 months (at least) and in all probability – if the future is like the past – 99 percent of them will stay in the U.S. for the rest of their lives.
They are clearly the lucky Haitians. They need only to prove that they are from that country, and were in the U.S. on or before January 12, when the earthquake struck their homeland.
Meanwhile the Department of Homeland Security is having a teleconference on today, to which CIS and many other immigration "stakeholders" are invited. The subject: how to handle the applications from the 200,000 and what should be done about waiving the $390 fee for those in the 14-65 age brackets. There is also a fingerprint fee, but it is not clear who gets this money, so let's put it aside for the moment.
As one would expect, the immigrant-serving agencies are pressing DHS to be generous in waiving the $390 fees for the Haitians who are about-to-become legal aliens.
Here's a modest suggestion. Except for the most dire cases, where a waiver might be appropriate, let's turn our energies into changing the government's policies – so that all the money raised from the newly-if-temporarily-legalized Haitians is used as additional relief for Haiti. Who could object to that? The money raised would be in addition to the $100 million that the Obama Administration has already committed to Haiti.
If there are, say, 100,000 Haitians in the 14-65 age bracket in the US illegally who apply, and who pay the $390 in government fees, that would raise a tidy $39 million for additional help to Haiti.
That would provide a lot of badly needed relief, rescue, and medical supplies for the vast majority of Haitians, those who were not lucky enough to be in the U.S. when the quake struck.
Editor's Note: If you enjoyed this blog, please visit our Haitian Immigration overview page.