Biden to Protect Hundreds of Thousands of Haitians From Deportation - The World News

Biden to Protect Hundreds of Thousands of Haitians From Deportation

The Biden administration plans to protect from deportation around 300,000 Haitians and allow them to work in the country, according to three people with knowledge of the matter, the latest move to shield immigrants from returning to countries in dire conditions.

The administration’s plan would make Haitians who arrived after November 2022 and before early June eligible for temporary protected status, the three people said on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly. It comes amid a flurry of recent immigration actions by President Biden. Those include efforts to help undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens more easily gain U.S. citizenship and block asylum claims at the southern border.

Mr. Biden has shifted toward a more restrictive stance at the southern border, which some see as an attempt to bolster his re-election chances. He has drawn criticism of his policies from both sides — from the left, including immigration activists who condemn his crackdown on asylum, and from the right, including former President Donald J. Trump, who view him as being too lenient to those who enter the country illegally.

The Biden administration has used temporary protected status over the past few years to protect hundreds of thousands of migrants, including from countries like Venezuela, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Haiti.

The protections for Haiti came as violence and upheaval ravaged Haiti, including the assassination of the country’s president, Jovenel Moïse, in 2021. Gangs have taken control of much of the country.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas designated Haiti with temporary protected status in 2021 and renewed that status in late 2022.

Despite the government protecting some Haitians from deportation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have continued to deport people to the country in recent months.

Earlier this year, ICE officials deported dozens of Haitians to a location hours north from the capital of the country. The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement at the time that Haitians had legal pathways to enter the United States.

“We continue to encourage Haitians to use the safe, orderly pathways that are available to them, including the humanitarian parole process for Haitian nationals,” the statement said.

Since July 2023, the State Department has evacuated families of embassy workers from the country and warned U.S. visitors not to visit, saying it is not safe for Americans because of “kidnapping, crime, civil unrest and poor health care infrastructure.”

In March, the United Nations reported that gang violence had claimed the lives of more than 1,500 Haitians this year.

The prime minister, Ariel Henry, resigned in late April after pressure from local gangs kept him abroad.

“We have served the nation in difficult times,” Mr. Henry wrote in his resignation letter. “I sympathize with the losses and suffering endured by our compatriots during this period.”

Democratic lawmakers had called on the Biden administration in a letter in March to extend the protections, as well as to pause deportations to the country.

“The escalation of the grave danger Haitians face in their home country fully satisfies the requirements for a T.P.S. redesignation and a pause on all deportation flights to Haiti,” read the letter, signed by 67 Democratic and independent lawmakers. “Both of these steps are necessary to ensure that the United States does not return Haitian nationals to a government incapable of protecting its citizens — often subjecting them to repression and violence — and gangs that brutally victimize residents and operate without restrictions.”

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