February 26, 2018

Menendez Calls on Trump Admin Official to Assess Conditions in Haiti Firsthand and Reverse Decision Ending TPS for Haiti

Calls on Deputy Secretary of State to use his Port-au-Prince visit to reaffirm U.S. position of mutual respect and partnership with the Government of Haiti following President Trump’s “shithole” comments

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today sent a letter to Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan in advance of his trip to Port-au-Prince urging him to assess conditions on the ground in Haiti and reconsider the Trump Administration’s misguided decision to end the Temporary Protective Status (TPS) designation for Haitians living in the United States.

As a leading voice in Congress to uphold Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti, the Senator recommended the Deputy Secretary use his trip to personally see the Haitian government’s limited capacity to repatriate the nearly 50,000 TPS beneficiaries living in the United States. 

“As you will witness, the Department’s recommendation to terminate TPS was not based on the facts on the ground, but instead was the result of political interference by the White House in an effort to advance this Administration’s xenophobic anti-immigration agenda,” wrote the Senator. “It is time for the Administration to retract its decision and implement the TPS program in accordance with U.S. law in order to protect foreign nationals living in the U.S. who cannot safely return to their homeland.”

Menendez also reiterated that President Trump’s recent derogatory comments, calling Haiti and Central American and African countries “shitholes,” damaged our diplomacy and national security, concluding, “I hope you will utilize your trip to reject the President’s insulting comments and reaffirm U.S. commitment to a productive partnership with the Haitian people based on mutual respect and shared democratic values.”

A copy of the letter can be found here and below:

Dear Deputy Secretary Sullivan,

I am writing in advance of your trip to Port-au-Prince to urge you to assess conditions on the ground in Haiti and reconsider the Trump Administration’s misguided decision to end the Temporary Protective Status (TPS) designation for Haiti.

During your stay, I encourage you to travel outside of the capital and personally examine the devastating damage recent hurricanes have caused, as well as the enduring impact of Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake. I also urge you to assess the Haitian government’s limited capacity to viably repatriate more than 55,000 citizens, who would be subject to deportation from the United States.

Such a review would demonstrate that too many Haitians still lack economic and basic food security, that the country’s cholera outbreak has had lasting humanitarian consequences on health infrastructure, and that a massive wave of immigration would overwhelm Haiti’s institutions. The potential influx of tens of thousands of new arrivals would threaten to destabilize an already fragile country close to the United States, potentially sowing long-term adverse consequences for the stability for the region more broadly. 

Information you are able to gather first hand from your trip will surely provide ample justification to reevaluate the State Department’s unfounded recommendation that the Department of Homeland Security end the TPS designation for Haiti. As you will witness, the Department’s recommendation to terminate TPS was not based on the facts on the ground, but instead was the result of political interference by the White House in an effort to advance this Administration’s xenophobic anti-immigration agenda.

The Administration’s baseless decision to end TPS for Haiti has created a climate of fear throughout Haitian-American communities in the United States and threatens to tear apart American families. The threat to families is real—approximately 27,000 Haitian TPS holders have US-born citizen children who would lose a parent to deportation if this decision stands. 

It is time for the Administration to retract its decision and implement the TPS program in accordance with U.S. law in order to provide humanitarian protections to foreign nationals living in the U.S. that cannot safely return to their homeland. These designations provide a critical component of our own national security as well.

Additionally, I remain deeply disturbed by President Trump’s recent use of offensive and derogatory language to describe Haiti and Central American and African countries. I hope you will utilize your trip to reject the President’s insulting comments and reaffirm U.S. commitment to a productive partnership with the Haitian people based on mutual respect and shared democratic values.

Thank you for your attention to these issues. I look forward to your response.

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