Last November, the Trump administration cruelly announced the end of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians. While human rights supporters saw the termination of the Haitian program as part of a broad assault by Trump and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly on TPS from all countries. The president’s spokespeople claimed that it was based on a careful determination by the Department of Homeland Security that conditions in Haiti had finally returned to normal.
The Department of Homeland Security issued this statement asserting that it had carefully considered all of the evidence about conditions in Haiti before announcing the end of the TPS program for that country:
The decision to terminate TPS for Haiti was made after a review of the conditions upon which the country’s original designation were based and whether those extraordinary but temporary conditions prevented Haiti from adequately handling the return of their nationals, as required by statute. Based on all available information, including recommendations received as part of an inter-agency consultation process, Acting Secretary Duke determined that those extraordinary but temporary conditions caused by the 2010 earthquake no longer exist. Thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated. Nov. 20, 2017
The story that the Department of Homeland Security put out to the general public and Congress was that conditions had improved dramatically in Haiti and that TPS needed to be terminated because of those changed country conditions. Internal Homeland Security documents released yesterday paint a very different picture of the country. An October, 2017 analysis of conditions in Haiti prepared by the professional staff of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service of the Department of Homeland Security essentially contradicts every claim made in the TPS termination announcement.
According to the internal report:
Although some progress regarding reconstruction and recovery has been made in a variety of sectors, billions of dollars in pledged foreign assistance never materialized, and the pace and scope of Haiti’s recovery has been uneven. Many of the conditions prompting the original January 2010 TPS designation persist, and the country remains vulnerable to external shocks and internal fragility. Haiti has also experienced various setbacks that have impeded its recovery, including a cholera epidemic and the impact of Hurricane Matthew—the latter of which struck Haiti in October 2016 and “severely worsened the pre-existing humanitarian situation” in the country.
Some of the claims made in the termination announcement are directly contradicted in the internal report. For example, the announcement claimed that “Since the 2010 earthquake, the number of displaced people in Haiti has decreased by 97 percent.” The internal report also cites the 97% figure, but not as an indicator of an end of displacement. According to the report, 97% of previously available relocation camp housing had been eliminated. In many cases, the Haitians thrown out of the closed camps were still homeless. Citing Amnesty International, the internal memo says that those forced out of the camps often “moved back to unsafe houses or started building or reconstructing their houses, in most cases with no assistance or guidance, and often in informal settlements located in hazardous areas.” The exiting of the camps was not due to improved conditions in Haiti, but to the failure of the international community to fulfill its promise to support those displaced by the earthquake.
In another example of the fabrications from Homeland Security, the termination announcement gives the rosy claim that “Significant steps have been taken to improve the stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens.” The internal report, in contrast, cites a UNESCO report from 2017 that says that “Haiti has some of the worst health indicators in the world…” The report notes that post-earthquake Haiti suffered the worst cholera outbreak in the Western Hemisphere in modern history and that it continues to see new cases of the disease every week. The internal memo says, citing UNESCO, that from “October 2010 through June 2017, there have been an estimated 813,000 cases of cholera in Haiti.”
The report rejects the termination announcement ‘s optimism about Haiti’s economy, saying that for poor Haitians there have only been “slight improvements” economically. According to the memo, 40% of the population is unemployed.
Many Haitians are having difficulty even feeding themselves. According to the internal memo:
food and nutritional security in Haiti have gradually deteriorated due to the impact of Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and three consecutive years of severe drought (exacerbated by El Niño). Hurricane Matthew also exacerbated food insecurity in Haiti. The impact of the hurricane caused an estimated $580 million in damages to the country’s agricultural sector, and extensive damage to “crops, livestock and fisheries as well as to infrastructure such as irrigation – with the most affected areas having up to 100 percent crop damage or destruction.”
If you want to see all of the documents released through the FOIA, follow this link. Attachment B is the Oct. 2017 TPS CONSIDERATIONS: HAITI (OCTOBER 2017) NATURAL DISASTER BACKGROUND & OVERVIEW referred to in this article.