Footnote to the TPS Announcement Regarding Haitians

By David North on July 31, 2021

The Department of Homeland Security took an almost invisibly small step forward with Friday’s announcement of a new round of Temporary Protected Status for Haitians. (My colleague Rob Law wrote about this yesterday.) TPS is not needed, of course, but the precise timing is (a tiny bit) better this time around.

TPS, which was being nibbled at unsuccessfully by the Trump administration, gives every Haitian (in this case) in the U.S. who is not already covered by prior rounds of TPS both a temporary legal status and a right to a work permit. Whether they are here legally or not, they get that status.

For all practical purposes, at least with the Biden administration, this is a specialized amnesty which is good forever.

But this year’s Haitian declaration is a tiny bit better (i.e., less generous) than those of the Obama administration, but you have to be a specialist with a powerful microscope to notice. You see, in earlier days, the government would announce the decision on the very day the eligibility began; so if you were, say, in Montreal and got wind of the announcement in that day’s Federal Register, you could enter the U.S. before midnight – either legally or illegally – and qualify for TPS.

The new announcement, released by the USCIS media office at about 11 a.m. on Friday, July 30, said that a TPS applicant had to demonstrate “that they have continuously resided in the United States since July 29, 2021" to be eligible for the program, meaning that the hypothetical Haitian in Montreal (or Tijuana) would not have a chance to get in under the wire.

While it may make sense not to deport people to a troubled nation, like Haiti, a least for a while, there is no need to provide legal status for all that nation’s residents who happen to be here at the time of Haitian troubles.