By Paul-Andre Mondesir and Mariana Salome Martinez
In November, the Trump administration announced it would not renew the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Haitians living in the U.S. TPS is a provision under which the government grants protection from deportation to people from certain countries afflicted by natural disasters, war, or other dangerous conditions.
There are over 50,000 Haitians with TPS in the U.S., and over 32,000 who live in Florida alone. AFSC’s Miami program and others across the country have been working hard to try and save TPS—bringing TPS holders to Washington, DC to meet with elected officials, organizing call-in days, and holding local events.
Here are the stories of three women* in Florida, who shared how their families would be affected by the Trump administration's decision to end TPS for Haiti.
Deliverance is a Haitian community member who has TPS. For years, she has worked two housekeeping jobs—in a condo and in a senior care home. As the head of her household, she earns only enough to pay bills and her family essentials.
Back in Haiti, Deliverance was self-employed. She had a small grocery business that allowed her to support herself and her children. When a massive earthquake devastated the country in 2010, they lost their home and their business.
Soon after, Deliverance and her then two-year-old daughter migrated to the United States and stayed with Deliverance’s sister, leaving her older son with family in the Dominican Republic. In 2011, Deliverance and her daughter were eligible for TPS status, which allowed Delierance to receive a work permit.
She has worked hard to make ends meet and support her family. Renewing her and her daughter's TPS status has been a financial strain since it amounts to more than $800 every six months for the both of them. Their economic situation is even more uncertain now since Deliverance’s work permit will expire this year.
TPS has allowed them both to have opportunities and advances in the country. Her daughter is now in sixth grade. They’ve made Broward County their home and are part of a large community.
Without TPS status, Deliverance will have to resort to working low-wage jobs without health insurance, which will also affect her daughter. But returning to Haiti, where they have nothing, is not an option.
Permanent protection for people like Deliverance and her daughter is needed.
“This decision to end TPS has completely blocked my life,” Deliverance says. “I don’t know about my future in this country. I am very scared.”
Esperantia lost everything in the 2010 earthquake that struck Haiti. In June 2010, she was able to enter the U.S. and eventually gain permanent residency.
Coming to the United States was a big change for Esperantia. She met her soon-to-be husband in the U.S., and they married seven months after. Now their family has grown and they have four children, ages two, three, four, and five.
Her husband, who has been living in the U.S. for 10 years, has TPS. His status has allowed him to work and provide for his family. He’s a roofer who works six days a week. Esperantia had worked in the fields on a farm, earning about $200 weekly, but became a stay-at-home mom to care for their children.
“My husband is the only one working, and we depend a lot on my husband to pay bills, the house, and support our children,” Esperantia says. “I am very scared if they terminate his status. I applied for citizenship, and I hope to be able to petition him before July 22, 2019 [when TPS will be terminated for all Haiti TPS holders].”
The stress has severely impacted her husband. He struggles to eat and sleep, worrying about what will happen. He hopes for a miracle and protection for TPS recipients.
Regine is a 35-year-old Haitian woman living in Florida with TPS. Although her family had fled Haiti 18 years ago after they faced death threats and persecution, she was unable to qualify for asylum in the U.S.
After 2010, Regine became eligible for TPS. Her immigration status allowed her to work and put herself through school, and she became a certified nurse assistant. She soon learned how to drive and got her driver’s license. Recently, Regine became a mother to a beautiful baby girl.
The Trump administration’s decision to end TPS has put her in “panic mode,” knowing that her work permit, driver’s license, and the life she has built now have an expiration date. But she know she needs to continue working to support herself and her five-month-old baby.
“I feel lost,” Regine says. “With the ending of the TPS program, I don’t know what to do. If I have to go back to Haiti, it will be devastating.”
*All three women preferred to use pseudonyms to protect their identities.