58,000 Haitians in U.S. May Lose Post-Earthquake Protections

“It would be a big mistake,” Ms. Versannes said about the possibility that she and others would lose their temporary protected status. “Haiti is not fine. Everybody knows that.”

Ms. Versannes has reason to worry. In April, James W. McCament, the acting director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, wrote a memo to Mr. Kelly recommending that he “terminate Haiti’s T.P.S. designation” because conditions related to the earthquake “have been largely ameliorated,” according to a copy obtained by The Miami Herald. Mr. McCament recommended delaying the deadline until Jan. 22, which would give Haitians time to return home.

The same determination will soon play out for foreigners in the program from nine other countries that, at some point, were ravaged by natural disaster, disease or civil strife, including Honduras, Somalia and Syria. Haitians are the first under the Trump administration to confront an expiration date.

The prospect that 58,000 Haitians could be forced to return en masse after spending more than seven years in the United States has raised a rare bipartisan outcry among state and federal lawmakers in Florida, including Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican. Elected officials from Massachusetts, New York and Utah have also weighed in, as have numerous faith-based refugee or aid groups.


Destruction in Jérémie, Haiti, after Hurricane Matthew in October.

Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

Even Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, an early Republican ally of President Trump’s, backs the idea of extending the program. He recently discussed the issue with Mr. Kelly, according to his chief of staff.

Haiti is still reeling not just from the earthquake but also from a cholera epidemic that killed 9,000, a long drought and last year’s Hurricane Matthew,…

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