Extend haven for Haitians, West Palm urges president
City says Haiti can’t reabsorb 58,000 citizens who fled.
WEST PALM BEACH — An earthquake, cholera epidemic and hurricane have left Haiti reeling, and the 58,000 people who fled to the safety of the U.S. need more time, the City Commission said Tuesday, in a vote urging the Trump administration to extend the Haitians’ temporary protected status.
In a unanimous vote without discussion, the commission urged President Donald Trump to extend Haiti’s protected status designation 18 months past its Jan. 22, 2018, expiration.
“The Haitian government, struggling to recover from the recent catastrophes, is unable to safely receive or assimilate the 58,000 Haitians with Temporary Protected Status,” according to the administration of Mayor Jeri Muoio, which placed the matter on the Oct. 10 agenda, “along with an influx of repatriates expelled from the Dominican Republic. Nor can the government replace the remittances from Haitians in the U.S. which help sustain the Haitian economy.”
Deporting the Haitians would be “unsafe and destabilizing,” the city said.
By West Palm Beach’s estimate, money sent from Haitians here, more than $1 billion each year, helps 320,000 to 500,000 relatives on the island and is Haiti’s chief source of foreign aid.
The January 2010 earthquake, which registered as magnitude 7.0, killed tens of thousands. The Haitian government estimated 300,000 died, though other estimates were much lower. Unquestioned, though, is that hundreds of thousands were displaced by the earthquake and its aftershocks.
According to West Palm’s research, 40,000 remain in displaced persons camps and 200,000 are in another settlement camp. Meanwhile, cholera spread by U.N. peacekeepers killed 10,000 and affected 800,000. Hurricane Matthew left another 1,000 dead last year, destroying crops, contaminating water supplies and damaging infrastructure.
On May 22, the U.S. extended the status for six months. Haitians staying under that protective status have been told to prepare to leave by Jan. 22 or face deportation.
Women walk past a commercial building in Petionville, Haiti, leveled by a magnitude-7.0 earthquake that hit in January 2010.