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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy


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As we watch the earthquake destruction in Haiti with horror, one group of individuals that will likely start to get attention is the population of Haitians currently in the US and who are obviously not going to be able to safely return home anytime soon.

US immigration law actually has a system to handle precisely this situation. It's called Temporary Protected Status and it is available to individuals who are from country suffering armed conflicts, disasters, or other extraordinary conditions. The Secretary of Homeland Security is empowered to determine which countries are on the TPS list. People in TPS status are considered in legal status and can receive work authorization in order to remain in the US until the situation in their home country reaches a point that DHS determines will allow for a safe return.

The scope of a disaster must be extreme for TPS status to be granted. Recent examples were Hurricane Mitch which resulted in TPS status being granted for Central Americans and the volcano in Montserrat which made m that country uninhabitable. 

The granting of TPS status has been politically charged in the past. Many people were upset that Haiti was not granted TPS after the devastation of recent hurricanes. However, the story emerging from Port-a-Prince seems so catastrophic that it is hard to believe that TPS status would not be approved.

DHS has not announced anything yet, but expect something very soon.

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  1. George Chell's Avatar
    A big time tragedy!
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