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Earthquake shifts Haiti immigration debate

Earthquake shifts Haiti immigration debate

In the wake of this week’s earthquake, the United States has halted the deportation of undocumented Haitian immigrants. Now, immigrants’ rights advocates and Florida lawmakers are pushing the administration to grant Haitians Temporary Protected Status, a special dispensation given to immigrants who cannot return to their homelands:

On Wednesday, South Florida’s three Cuban-American Republican members of Congress — Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen — sent a joint letter to Obama requesting TPS for Haitian nationals, along with immediate humanitarian aid for Haiti. They have organized a news conference on Thursday to talk about the issue.

"How much does Haiti have to suffer before Haitians in the United States are granted TPS pursuant to law?” said Lincoln Diaz-Balart Wednesday. “The reason TPS exists in the statute as an option for the president is precisely for moments such as this in Haiti.”

The other countries whose nationals are currently eligible for TPS are El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia and Sudan. Given Haiti’s traumatic recent history and promximity to the U.S., I have to wonder why isn’t already on that list.