March 4, 2005
Dear Secretary Chertoff:
We are writing to urge you to designate the Republic of Haiti for the Temporary Protected
Status Program (TPS).
As Haiti celebrates 201 years of independence from French colonial rule, the people of
Haiti are hardly able to exercise their freedom. Rather, they remain trapped under constant
fear of violence and chaos. The tumultuous events of 2004 alone consisted of violent
uprisings, the departure of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, massive floods displacing tens
of thousands in May, and Tropical Storm Jeanne in September leading to more than 3000
deaths in the ensuing floods. The U.S. Ambassador declared Haiti a disaster after the
destruction in May and September. All the while, political unrest and a failed justice
system continued to condemn the island to chaos.
In October 2004 the Haitian Government requested Temporary Protected Status for
Haitians in the U.S. With thousands of people killed in the natural disasters and hundreds
of thousands left homeless, Haiti is temporarily unable to handle the return of nationals.
Granting TPS would allow Haitians already in the U.S. to live in peace and security while
Haiti recovers. As you know, in 1998 the U.S. government set a precedent when it granted
TPS to nationals from four Central American countries affected by Hurricane Mitch.
Last year, the Department of Homeland Security included the following lines in a response
to a Congressional letter regarding TPS for Haitians:
“The Secretary of DHS may designate a foreign state for TPS based upon: (1) an
ongoing armed conflict that poses a serious threat to the safety of returning
nationals; (2) an environmental disaster that results in a substantial, but temporary,
disruption of living conditions, or (3) extraordinary and temporary conditions that
prevent a country’s nationals from safely returning to that country, unless the
Secretary finds that such designation is contrary to the national interest of the
We would argue that the Republic of Haiti meets the above conditions and deserves serious
reconsideration for Temporary Protected Status eligibility.
As you are aware, the tragic situation in Haiti has not substantially improved to sustain the
impoverished citizens on the island, especially in the wake of the recent disasters. Eighty
percent of the population lives below the poverty line, and only half the population can
read and write, Many schools have yet to reopen after the massive flooding. Additionally,
looting and lack of road security impedes food deliveries from reaching needy citizens.
The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MIN’USTAH)—created to ensure a secure and
stable environment—has aided in the disaster relief efforts but is having difficulty
maintaining law and order, especially considering MINUSTAH does not have the
maximum 6,700 troops and 1,622 civilian police authorized by the Security Council.
Haiti is a mere 600 miles off the coast of Florida, and both our countries would be well
served if the United States granted TPS to Haitians living in the U.S., to prevent their
deportation to a disaster-ridden, impoverished and oftentimes violent country. In the new
year as the United States is eager to show compassion for the victims of the recent
hurricanes in the Caribbean and the earthquake and tsunami in Asia, it is time to reconsider
granting Temporary Protected Status to Haitians.
Thank you for your consideration.
Eliot L. Engel
Member of Congress