After activists and over 80 lawmakers, including at least eight Republicans, called on the Obama administration to grant undocumented Haitian immigrants already in the U.S. Temporary Protected Status (TPS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced yesterday afternoon that Haitian nationals who were in the U.S. at the time of the earthquake in Haiti will be permitted to over-stay their visa for the next 18 months. A statement released by DHS on behalf of Napolitano reads:
As part of the Department’s ongoing efforts to assist Haiti following Tuesday’s devastating earthquake, I am announcing the designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals who were in the United States as of January 12, 2010.
This is a disaster of historic proportions and this designation will allow eligible Haitian nationals in the United States to continue living and working in our country for the next 18 months. Providing a temporary refuge for Haitian nationals who are currently in the United States and whose personal safety would be endangered by returning to Haiti is part of this Administration’s continuing efforts to support Haiti’s recovery.
Napolitano is careful to note that TPS will not be granted to those who attempt to travel to the United States after January 12, 2010 and that Haitians who try to enter the U.S. without documentation from there on out will be repatriated.