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    Trump Administration Ends Temporary Protection for Haitians

    The Trump administration is ending a humanitarian program that has allowed some 59,000 Haitians to live and work in the United States since an earthquake ravaged their country in 2010, Homeland Security officials said on Monday.
    Haitians with what is known as Temporary Protected Status will be expected to leave the United States by July 2019 or face deportation.
    The decision set off immediate dismay among Haitian communities in South Florida, New York and beyond, and was a signal to other foreigners with temporary protections that they, too, could soon be asked to leave.
    About 320,000 people now benefit from the Temporary Protected Status program, which was signed into law by President George Bush in 1990, and the decision on Monday followed another one last month that ended protections for 2,500 Nicaraguans.
    Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, is still struggling to recover from the earthquake and relies heavily on money its expatriates send to relatives back home. The Haitian government had asked the Trump administration to extend the protected status. 
    “I received a shock right now,” Gerald Michaud, 45, a Haitian who lives in Brooklyn, said when he heard the news. He has been working at La Guardia Airport as a wheelchair attendant, sending money to family and friends back home. He said he feared for his welfare and safety back in Haiti now that his permission to remain in the United States was ending.
    “The situation is not good in my country,” he said. “I don’t know where I am able to go.”
    Haitians are the second-largest group of foreigners with temporary status. The protection is extended to people already in the United States who have come from countries crippled by natural disasters or armed conflict that prevents their citizens from returning or prevents their country from adequately receiving them. The government periodically reviews each group’s status and decides whether to continue the protections.
    The Obama administration renewed the protections for Haitians several times, after determining that conditions in Haiti remained precarious. But the Trump administration, which has sought greater controls on immigration, has said that the program, which was intended to provide only temporary relief, has turned into a permanent benefit for tens of thousands of people.
    In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security said that after meeting with Haitian government officials and Haitian communities in the United States, it had decided to let the protections end.
    “Since the 2010 earthquake, the number of displaced people in Haiti has decreased by 97 percent,” the statement said. “Significant steps have been taken to improve the stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens, and Haiti is able to safely receive traditional levels of returned citizens.”
    The protection for Haitians was most recently extended in May, by John F. Kelly, the Homeland Security secretary at the time. He allowed only a six-month extension, a shorter one than is typical, saying that the Haitians “need to start thinking about returning.”
    The decision on Monday by Elaine Duke, the acting secretary, set a termination date of July 2019 to give people time to make arrangements to leave.
    The largest group of Temporary Protected Status beneficiaries, nearly 200,000 people, are from El Salvador. The Department of Homeland Security is scheduled to announce next month whether it will rescind or renew protection for that country, which is plagued with gang violence and high unemployment. The protection applies to Salvadorans who were in the United States without permission on Feb. 13, 2001, and was granted after deadly earthquakes in their home country.
    Though Ms. Duke ended protections for Nicaraguans last month, she continued, at least for now, protections for Hondurans despite pressurefrom Mr. Kelly, now President Trump’s chief of staff, to end them.
    Others who now benefit include people from Nepal, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. In 2016, the Obama administration decided to end temporary protection for citizens from three West African countries that had been devastated by the Ebola virus several years ago.

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