Humanitarian aid is proving not to be a priority of the current administration, especially regarding communities of color. We saw evidence of this only a month ago when the president refused to accelerate Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds to Puerto Rico, the US territory of 3.7 million US citizens and also at the beginning of September when the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was disassembled. So many of the presidential campaign promises were about scapegoating immigrants and people of color. Now we have news that temporary protected status (TPS) for Haitian immigrants is coming to an end.
The Trump administration announced that 59,000 Haitians in the US under TPS have 18 months to self-deport back to Haiti. TPS was offered to Haitians in 2010 after the devastating earthquake. Since then, Haiti continues to be a struggling country, especially after recent hurricanes and a current cholera epidemic. The economic restoration of Haiti is heavily reliant upon the money Haitians in the US under TPS send back to their home country. Remittances from the US account for 25 percent of the Haiti’s total Gross Domestic Product. Therefore, Haiti will be hard-hit when it no longer receives this aid.
Furthermore, Haitian TPS holders have made lives in the US. Many hold jobs, pay mortgages, have American-born children, and are an integral part of many communities. Requiring their self-deportation will be devastating to families and communities. Many may choose to remain in the US beyond the TPS expiration, and therefore, be a part of the more than 12 million undocumented immigrants that don’t have a legitimate pathway to citizenship.
The decision to deport, reject, and keep aid from communities of color is a continuous choice of the Trump administration that creates fear and division. When we restrict aid and care for human beings, we choose to marginalize entire populations and to create injustice for generations. At Pax Christi USA we know that as long as this kind of injustice exists, our world will not have peace.
Picture from flickr.com