After an earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, Baltimore Councilman Kristerfer Burnett took in some of his wife's family who fled the devastated Caribbean country.
The relatives came to the United States under a program called Temporary Protected Status or TPS. Haiti’s status would end Jan. 22, 2018, without further action by the Department of Homeland Security.
With Haiti still recovering even seven years later, Burnett is hoping his council colleagues will back a resolution calling on the federal government to allow his relatives and some 58,000 other Haitians to stay in the United States.
“I visited [Haiti] myself personally. They’re still very much in recovery,” Burnett said. “It’s really important that we continue to be a welcoming place for people who’ve experienced that sort of instability and trauma.”
In all, about 437,000 people benefit from TPS, which allows people from countries that have experienced natural disasters or political instability to stay in the United States even if they entered illegally. The Trump administration announced last week that it would end the program for 5,300 Nicaraguans in 2019.
That decision has many from Haiti, El Salvador and other nations on edge, and Burnett’s resolution calls on the federal government to extend protections for citizens of the other countries, too.
Critics of the program say the designations for some countries have been extended far too long, undermining its supposed temporary nature.