On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months to the roughly 100,000 Haitians living illegally in the United States. The announcement was made after lawmakers from both parties called to grant the status that is available to a small number of federally-designated countries suffering armed conflicts, natural disasters, or other extraordinary circumstances.
But not every lawmaker is satisfied with the decision. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) called the measure “amnesty” last week, saying “illegal immigrants from Haiti have no reason to fear deportation, but if they are deported, Haiti is in great need of relief workers, and many of them could be a big help to their fellow Haitians.” On the Fred Thompson show yesterday, King appeared to walk back his deportation comments while still rejecting Temporary Protective Status:
KING: Well, the first thing that happened was we hadn’t even gotten through the after shocks and people were still crying out from under the rubble and the open borders amnesty crowd jumped on that and used the Rahm Emanuel axiom, which is never let a crisis go to waste. And it began to call for Temporary Protective Status for the illegal Haitians that are in the United States, which about thirty, thirty thousand of them have been processed for deportation but not sent. And maybe there’s another hundred thousand of them here. And my objection to that is that, first, the Department of Homeland Security suspend the deportations to Haiti. That is the proper thing. We can’t be sending people back into a chaotic atmosphere. By the same token, we don’t need to be knee jerking a decision that grants amnesty to people that have contempt for American laws. So, I say take a deep breath on that. Don’t deport them. But don’t give them Temporary Protective Status because those who are here illegally from Haiti if they get TPR, it’s almost an automatic green card, which is a path to citizenship. We shouldn’t award people who broke American laws because there’s a disaster in Haiti.
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) attacked the extension of TPS yesterday as well, telling right-wing radio talker Laura Ingraham that it “has nothing to do with trying to help the people of Haiti during this tragedy. It looked like a convenient way to be compassionate.” Listen here:
As the Wonk Room’s Andrea Nill pointed out last week, “Allowing undocumented Haitians who are already living in the U.S. to legally work would help them earn the honest wages they need to send back money to their families and get their country back on its feet.” Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) wrote on CNN last week that “it makes no sense to tell Haitians already here that they can stay in the U.S. in the wake of the earthquake, but cannot legally support themselves.”