Office of Public Witness signs on to letter opposing deportations of Haitians




Roy Winter (left), director of Brethren Disaster Ministries, traveled to Haiti just days after the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake with a small delegation from the US church. He is shown here with Pastor Ludovic St. Fleur (at center in red) of Miami, Fla, meeting with members of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti) who were affected by the disaster.
Photo by Jeff Boshart

Roy Winter (left), director of Brethren Disaster Ministries, traveled to Haiti just days after the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake with a small delegation from the US church. He is shown here with Pastor Ludovic St. Fleur (at center in red) of Miami, Fla, meeting with members of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti) who were affected by the disaster.

The Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness has signed on to a letter to the US administration from the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. The letter responds to signals from the administration that a decision may be made not to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nearly 50,000 Haitians living in the United States.

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The special TPS status has been extended in 18-month increments since this group of Haitians gained took refuge in the United States following the earthquake that devastated their nation in 2010. If TPS were not to be extended for another 18 months beyond the current end date of July 22, Haitians with TPS status will face deportation.

The letter asked for TPS status to be extended, saying: “We concur with USCIS’s extremely detailed, 8-page single-spaced December 2016 review and assessment that the conditions warranting TPS for this group persist. We respectfully disagree with its recent unfounded contrary recommendation and urge you to extend TPS for 18 months for those currently enjoying this status, i.e. who applied as having been present in the United States on or before January 12, 2010 (updated to January 12, 2011 to cover some post-earthquake parolees)....

“TPS...is appropriate today because it remains unsafe to deport due to conditions including incomplete earthquake recovery; the still-unchecked cholera epidemic, the world’s worst; and Hurricane Matthew’s vast destruction in October, which has caused a severe food insecurity crisis,” the letter continued, in part.

Nathan Hosler, director of the Office of Public Witness, reported that he signed on to the letter in support of Haitian Brethren, after receiving information about the concern this is causing among Haitian congregations.

Separately, Global Food Initiative manager Jeff Boshart, who has spent time working in Haiti in the past and who served there with Brethren Disaster Ministries following the earthquake, reported similar responses from Haitian Brethren. Ludovic St. Fleur of the Eglise des Freres Haitiens congregation in Miami, Fla., is one of the Brethren leaders expressing concern, noting that people in his congregation will be negatively affected.

“His members have written to their representatives and senators and are not sure what else they can do,” Boshart said of St. Fleur’s concerns. “They greatly appreciate the prayers and support of the wider church.”

The full text of the letter follows:


Hon. Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
Hon. John F. Kelly, Secretary
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Dear President Trump and Secretary Kelly:

We write as organizations and leaders in and serving the Haitian American community on an issue of extreme concern and urgency, DHS’s impending decision whether to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nearly 50,000 long-resident Haitians--whose remittances sustain as many as 500,000 relatives in Haiti, to the benefit of its stability and our national security--for 18 months beyond July 22. We know and appreciate that Secretary Kelly is intimately familiar with Haiti and that President Trump visited the Haitian community during the campaign and promised to be its champion.

We concur with USCIS’s extremely detailed, 8-page single-spaced December 2016 review and assessment that the conditions warranting TPS for this group persist. We respectfully disagree with its recent unfounded contrary recommendation and urge you to extend TPS for 18 months for those currently enjoying this status, i.e. who applied as having been present in the United States on or before January 12, 2010 (updated to January 12, 2011 to cover some post-earthquake parolees).

We respectfully ask this for compelling reasons referenced below and urged by bipartisan political leaders and by the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Miami Herald, Sun Sentinel, and New York Daily News editorial boards, among many others.

TPS for the 50,000 has been renewed in 18-month increments and is appropriate today because it remains unsafe to deport due to conditions including incomplete earthquake recovery; the still-unchecked cholera epidemic, the world’s worst; and Hurricane Matthew’s vast destruction in October, which has caused a severe food insecurity crisis.

Haiti is reeling from these two massive calamities since the January 2010, 7.0 magnitude quake killed at least 200,000, destroyed Port au Prince, affected a third of Haiti’s people, cost an estimated 120% of its GDP, and from which recovery remains incomplete.

In October, 2016, Hurricane Matthew, Haiti’s worst hurricane in 52 years, effected 2 million Haitians, left 1.4 million including 800,000 children in need of emergency aid, killed 1,000, rendered 800,000 extremely food insecure, left 1,250,000 including 500,000 children without safe water, destroyed livestock and crops in broad areas, damaged or destroyed at least 716 schools interrupting the education of an estimated 490,000 children, dramatically increased the number of cholera cases in affected areas, and destroyed entire towns which were cut off from the outside world by flooding and infrastructure damage. According to a March 2017 United Nations Report, the hurricane cost Haiti $2.7 billion, or 32% of its GDP.

Hurricane Matthew’s destruction of crops and livestock has also caused a food insecurity crisis today –Haitians in some affected areas are dying of malnutrition -- and efforts to repair Matthew’s vast infrastructure and other damage have been slow and limited. Another post-quake sledgehammer blow is killing and sickening Haitians today. Haiti had not had cholera in at least 100 years, but UN peacekeepers’ unsanitary practices caused a cholera outbreak in October, 2010 which by conservative estimates has killed and sickened 9,500 and 900,000 Haitians. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has called the cholera epidemic “the worst in recent history,” and the United Nations, which until December failed to acknowledge responsibility, has to date raised only $2 million of the $400 million it targeted to even begin addressing this deadly crisis.

These are extraordinary conditions fully warranting TPS extension. Haiti today cannot safely assimilate 50,000 long-resident deportees or replace their remittances on which hundreds of thousands depend. Remittances are Haiti’s chief form of foreign aid and totaled $1.3 billion from the United States alone in 2015 -- about 15% of Haiti’s GDP. Deporting them would also hurt communities you pledged to champion. The 50,000 are noncriminals (by TPS requirement) who have mostly been here 7 to 15 years, working and raising families including U.S.-born children who should not be forced to choose between their parents and their birthright and future as Americans.

Failure to extend TPS given these conditions would be disastrous for families here and there and destabilizing, adding a significant burden to a nation already saddled with overwhelming challenges, increasing desperation and possibly entailing additional U.S. Coast Guard interdiction resources, among other possible consequences. Haiti’s stability is in the national security interest of the United States.

For these reasons, we respectfully ask that you extend Haiti’s TPS designation for another 18 months, and we appreciate your consideration on this important matter.

-- For more information and an online link to the letter, go to www.ijdh.org/2016/10/topics/immigration-topics/dhs-should-extend-tps-for-haitians .

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