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Nelson asks Homeland Security to extend protected status for Haitians

Nelson Venezuela (1)
@PatriciaMazzei

Sen. Bill Nelson asked the Trump administration Wednesday to extend a temporary protected status, or TPS, for nearly 60,000 Haitians living in the U.S. following the 2010 earthquake.

"I understand that the Government of Haiti is working on a plan to further rebuild and develop the country so that its people can make their lives there," Nelson wrote in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. "To allow for successful implementation of its plan, the Government requests that you extend TPS for Haitian nationals for another 18 months."

Paul Altidor, the Haitian ambassador to the U.S., told the Florida Democrat that the country is still trying to recover from the earthquake and a 2016 hurricane, according to Nelson's office.

Last month, following reports that the White House might seek to end TPS, Nelson asked Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to extend the protection.

Here's the text of Nelson's latest letter:

Dear Secretary Kelly:                     

I write again regarding the renewal of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals.

In the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake, many Haitians fled their homes and eventually settled in my state of Florida. As you know, conditions in Haiti remain very difficult, especially after the devastation of Hurricane Matthew. And, after long-delayed elections and a prolonged political crisis, Haiti only recently formed a government.

I understand that the Government of Haiti is working on a plan to further rebuild and develop the country so that its people can make their lives there. Allowing TPS to expire too soon risks disrupting the lives of nearly 60,000 Haitians living in the United States and burdening a government not ready to accept them. To allow for successful implementation of its plan, the Government requests that you extend TPS for Haitian nationals for another 18 months.

I am also concerned about recent press reports that there is an effort to find selective examples of criminal activity by Haitian nationals as a part of the Department’s review of TPS. Haitians contribute significantly to the culture and economy of Florida and our country, and the bad acts of a few should not mean that tens of thousands must return to a country still struggling to recover from a devastating earthquake and hurricane. Moreover, current law already provides that those with felony convictions or two or more misdemeanor convictions are not eligible for TPS.

I know that you share hopes for a stable and prosperous Haiti. I urge you to consider the concerns of the Government and people of Haiti in renewing TPS.

Thank you for your consideration.

Photo credit: Lynne Sladky, Associated Press

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