Community leaders and elected officials gathered on Friday at the steps of the symbolic Freedom Tower in Biscayne Boulevard to speak out about the consequences of ending the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) granted to over 40,000 Haitians, Hondurans, and Salvadorians in South Florida.
“Deporting all these people will have a big impact on the U.S. economy, because TPS recipients they are doctors, they are nurses, they work in the industry, [they] are in all different spheres of life in the U.S.” said Marleine Bastien, executive director of Haitian Women of Miami, about the imminent expiration of TPS at the end of November.
Bastien is just returning from a trip to Washington D.C. with TPS recipients and their families, many of them with U.S.-born children. The families met with lawmakers to urge them to renew TPS for another 18 months.
According to Frank Mora, director of Florida International University’s Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center, another major problem with TPS not being renewed is the humanitarian crisis it could cause in these countries.
“[These] individuals don't know those countries. Individuals that send back hundreds of millions of dollars in remittances to support family members and those people will no longer have access to those resources because we'll be deporting them,” he said.
Even though the situation is dire, there is large community support in South Florida alone.
“I have the support of my colleagues on the board of county commissioners, I have the support of many members in the city legislature and many municipalities supporting extending TPS for all these families,” said Jean Monestime, Miami-Dade County District 2 Commissioner, who represents the largest number of Haitians and Haitian-Americans in the county.
Bastien said that renewing TPS would allow them to work with lawmakers to find a permanent solution for TPS.
“If we want to ‘Make America Great Again’, we need to make sure, we need to do whatever we can and we urge the Trump administration to renew TPS for 18 months for the half a million Haitians, Hondurans and Salvadoreans, and also Nicaraguans, to give us a chance to work with members of Congress to eventually get a bill that will protect them on a permanent basis,” she said.