Ex­tend haven for Haitians, West Palm urges pres­i­dent

City says Haiti can’t re­ab­sorb 58,000 cit­i­zens who fled.

The Palm Beach Post - - LOCAL & BUSINESS - By Tony Doris Palm Beach Post Staff Writer tdoris@pbpost.com Twit­ter: @TonyDorisPBP

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.

LANNIS WA­TERS / THE PALM BEACH POST 2010

Women walk past a com­mer­cial build­ing in Pe­tionville, Haiti, lev­eled by a mag­ni­tude-7.0 earth­quake that hit in Jan­uary 2010.

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