Newark, NJ- On October 4th, Hurricane Matthew, a category four storm, caused widespread destruction throughout the Caribbean, killing over a thousand people and decimating the island of Haiti. In recognition of the urgent humanitarian crisis in the region, last week the Department of Homeland Security announced they would suspend deportations of unauthorized Haitian immigrants temporarily.
Following the 2010 earthquake that caused widespread damage in Haiti, immigrants fleeing unsafe conditions in their native country were granted relief from deportation and some were offered temporary protected status. Since then, immigration authorities focused deportations on Haitian immigrants who were criminal offenders or posed a threat to national security threat. Now, enforcement priorities have changed, and more Haitian immigrants are in danger of being deported. On September 22nd, DHS announced that they would begin prioritizing the deportation of unauthorized Haitian immigrants.
That announcement came in the wake of a Congressional hearing which revealed that thousands of Haitian immigrants are approaching the Southern Border seeking asylum. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah Saldana said Mexican authorities informed U.S. immigration officials that between September 21 and 23, nearly 5,000 immigrants including many Haitians entered Mexico through the Guatemalan border. Saldana said that DHS believes those immigrants are on their way to the U.S. and will attempt to enter the U.S. without the authorization or will ask for asylum.
Less than two weeks after the Sept. 22 announcement, Hurricane Matthew struck the island, destroying many communities and killing hundreds. Considering the destruction Haiti experienced following the storm, Secretary Jeh Johnson announced on October 4th that immigration authorities would scale back deportations and focus primarily on individuals who attempt entry at a border crossing and have been recently apprehended. In the DHS announcement, Sec. Johnson said his agencies would take steps to conduct the deportations humanely and with as minimal intrusion as possible.
Some Haitian immigrants were given temporary protected status which is offered to immigrants from countries that are adversely affected by war or natural disasters. This status allows immigrants to leave unsafe living conditions where they are in peril and gives them permission to live and work in the U.S. until it is safe for them to return home. DHS said Haitian immigrants granted temporary protected status, which is valid until July 2017, will not be included in the DHS’s deportation efforts.
If you are in danger of being deported because fall into a priority group or your visa has expired, contact my Newark office at 973-453-2009 or my Jersey City office at (201) 713-2227, and we can set up a consultation to discuss the options that will allow you to avoid deportation. I’m dedicated to each case I take on and have the skills needed to get the best possible outcome for your case. No matter what immigration issue you need assistance with, I can help.