Following the lead of Black immigrant advocates, faith groups were among over 420 organizations that signed a letter to the administration last month calling for the extension and redesignation of TPS for Haiti and urging the administration to halt deportations to Haiti, release Haitians in detention, and take other urgent actions to support Haitians seeking safety.
The member organizations of the IIC welcome this week’s announcement, which will protect thousands of Haitians already in the U.S. and ensure they have the protection and work authorization they need to live with dignity and safety. The IIC also urges the Biden administration to halt deportations of Haitians seeking safety and to swiftly release the Federal Register Notice and notification to those whose applications are currently pending. Additionally, faith groups continue to call for the designation or redesignation of TPS for nations in crisis, including Mauritania, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, and others.
Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC) member organizations released the following statements:
“As the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), a church with immigrant roots, we believe we are guided by Scripture to ‘love our neighbor’,” said Giovana Oaxaca, Program Director for Migration Policy for the ELCA and chair of the IIC Citizenship Working Group. “The ongoing conditions characterized by a ‘protracted, multifaceted crisis’ in Haiti are sound reasons for extending and redesignating TPS for Haiti to protect human life. This is a welcomed announcement backed by faith communities, Black migrant-led organizations, and other stakeholders. We greatly appreciate the government’s discernment given the realities in Haiti that prevent a safe return, and encourage prompt federal register notice, continued individualized review to release individuals in immigration custody, and robust use of TPS authority in other extraordinary cases.”
“The decision by the Biden administration to extend and redesignate Temporary Protected Status for Haitians living in the U.S. is a welcome relief for the 100,000 Haitians who should have protection from deportation and the ability to apply for work permits,” said Kristin Kumpf, Director of Migration at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and co-chair of the IIC Asylum Working Group. “This decision comes after months of public pressure and extraordinary organizing from Black immigrant-led organizations and allies across the country. While we applaud the Biden administration for this decision, more action needs to be taken. We call on the administration to immediately release all Haitians currently in detention and to stop all deportations. It is also past time to provide permanent protections instead of extending temporary ones. Congress must act immediately to pass legislation that reflects our values.”
“Faith communities across the country have been walking in solidarity with the incredible organizing efforts of Black-led organizations to ensure that this administration made the right decision on redesignating TPS for Haitians,” said Rev. Noel Andersen, Director of Grassroots Organizing at Church World Service and co-chair of the IIC Asylum Working Group. “This is a critical victory at a time where Haitians have faced immense discrimination in the asylum process at the U.S.- Mexico Border. We are thankful for this decision, but will continue to pray and advocate that this administration also grants TPS for other populations in need, and that Congress enact long-term solutions by immediately passing a pathway to citizenship for all those in need.”
“This outcome is largely due to the relentless advocacy of our partners at Black immigrant-led organizations,”said Karen Sullivan, Director of Advocacy at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC). “Their voices were critical in leading the Biden administration to make this sound and necessary decision. Temporary Protected Status was created by Congress for exactly this type of situation — to provide humanitarian relief when conditions on the ground are so extreme as to be unsafe for citizens to return. Haitians certainly deserve such protection at this time. Along with our partners, we will continue advocating for similar decisions to be made for countries facing equally grave challenges.”
Background: The current TPS designation for Haiti is set to expire on February 3, 2023. The Biden administration had until December 5 to decide on whether TPS would be extended from the 2021 designation and/or redesignated for those that came after the 2021 designation. It was announced on December 5 that the administration extended and redesignated TPS for Haiti, affirming the rights of Haitian Nationals already in the U.S. to live, travel, work, and be temporarily free from deportation.
The Interfaith Immigration Coalition is made up of over 55 national, faith-based organizations brought together across many theological traditions with a common call to seek just policies that lift up the God-given dignity of every individual. In partnership, we work to protect the rights, dignity, and safety of all refugees and migrants. Follow us on Twitter @interfaithimm