Earlier this month, Haiti’s President René Préval asked President Bush to protect Haitians from being deported with a special immigration status. Temporary protected status offers residency and work permits for up to 18 months. It’s been extended to migrants from other countries wracked with political instability or environmental disaster, but never to Haitians.
Last week, two South Floridians in Congress wrote Bush a letter asking him to listen. Good news for Haitians and their supporters, but will anything change? For years, politicians have been deaf to desperate calls for TPS coming from Miami.
Steven Forester, a Haitian Women of Miami senior policy advocate, says the measure may actually have a chance of gaining approval from the lame duck presidency. (It's wildly unpopular in anti-immigration camps.) Forester approached Governor Crist Wednesday to ask for help.
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“We need President Bush to know that TPS is good for Florida,” Forester writes to the New Times, pointing out that the status would prevent American children from getting deported from Haitian parents and keep remittances flowing. “Bush won’t do it without some pressure from Florida Republicans. That’s why Crist is important, and we’re hoping at least behind-the-scenes he will be in touch with White House officials.”
But given the Administration’s past no-release policy for Haitian asylum seekers while other nationalities walk free, perhaps what they need most is someone else in the White House. --Janine Zeitlin