Metro

Decision time nears on status for Haitians in the US

The federal government has until next Monday to decide the fate of nearly 60,000 Haitians who have been allowed to stay and work in the United States after the 2010 earthquake that devastated their country.

In 2011, the Obama administration granted “temporary protected status” to people from Haiti, which allows immigrants from a designated country who are already living in the United States the right to stay and work legally if they cannot return to their country because of violence or natural disaster.

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As the deadline looms, here is a look at the consequences of revoking the status for affected Haitians, those who support extending the program and those who oppose it:

 If the Department of Homeland Security declines to extend the program, 58,000 Haitians — including about 4,300 in Massachusetts and parts of New Hampshire — will lose their right to work and could be deported.

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 A wide swath of advocacy groups and community leaders have come out in favor of extending the program for Haitians for at least another 18 months, including unions; hundreds of religious figures and doctors; and politicians including US Senator Ed Markey, State Attorney General Maura Healey, and State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry. Their arguments range from the humanitarian to the practical — for example, Haitians represent a significant portion of nursing and home care aides employed in the United States, an industry with large demand that has long faced a severe worker shortage that many argue will be exacerbated by the removal of so many immigrants.

 Those in favor of tighter immigration controls, such as the Center for Immigration Studies, argue that the status, which is usually granted for 18 months at a time, was never meant to be permanent and it is time to be begin preparing Haitians for repatriation. Last month, James McCament, acting director of the US Citizens and Immigrations Services sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly recommending he remove the designation for Haiti, arguing that conditions there have improved enough and the program is no longer necessary.

Maria Cramer can be reached at mcramer@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @globemcramer.
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