The issue of immigration and deportation has dominated the headlines since President Donald Trump began his campaign nearly two years ago. Latin Americans have received the most attention, but immigrants from another Caribbean country could soon feel the heat too. Is there a reason to worry?
Nearly 60,000 Haitian immigrants are currently living in the U.S. as part of a temporary visa program. The federal government allowed Haitians to enter the country following a pair of large earthquakes in 2010 and 2014, but their relief period could soon be up as President Trump enacts new immigration policy. A decision on extending temporary protected status (TPS) for Haitian immigrants is expected soon by the administration, but an extension appears to be uncertain at best.
What is a "temporary protected status?"
A temporary protected status is granted to immigrants from certain countries based on a humanitarian or economic crisis. Whether or not conditions have improved in Haiti is still up for debate following Hurricane Matthew in late 2016, which resulted in nearly 500 deaths and a subsequent cholera outbreak.
An analysis of a country's current humanitarian state is usually enough to determine whether or not a TPS is extended, but the Trump administration could be considering other criteria.
When criminal defense and immigration needs meet
Trump is reportedly looking into the criminal histories of Haitian immigrants in TPS, according to reports. The acting director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has recommended that the program expire. A decision is expected soon to allow immigrants 60 days notice of the potentially final expiration in July.
Why is it controversial?
Criminal records may not indicate a person's immigration status, but the overall criminality of Haitians in TPS could be a factor in Trump's decision. Although it is said to be "unorthodox," Trump's scrutiny fits the larger theme of his tough on immigration attitude.
What does it mean for TPS immigrants?
This method has implications for Haitian immigrants in Nebraska who may be seeking an appeal of an immigration status or a criminal conviction. As we see in this case, the stakes of criminal charges are often higher for immigrants than for naturalized citizens.
When the future is uncertain, legal protections may be available with the help of an attorney. Haitians in need of help can seek the advice of a Nebraska-based law firm that specializes in both immigration and criminal defense.