The head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston this week blasted the Trump administration’s decision to end temporary protected status for approximately 59,000 Haitians who fled their country’s 2010 earthquake for safe harbor in the United States.
“The spirit of gratitude and generosity embodied in Thanksgiving stands in sharp contrast to the decision of the US government this week to end Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for over 50,000 Haitians living in the United States,” Cardinal Seán O’Malley said in a strongly worded statement.
He described the humanitarian program as “an act of compassion and care designed to assist those whose visas have expired in the United States, and for whom return to their native land is either dangerous or threatening to their lives and welfare.”
“[It] is the kind of political generosity which for decades has earned the United States a positive reputation throughout the international community.”
O’Malley conceded that federal officials have the authority to terminate the program for Haitians as well as certain immigrants from Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras.
“But the United States can and should do far better,” O’Malley said.
“As the strongest and wealthiest nation in the Americas we have a moral responsibility to provide care and compassion for our brothers and sisters living here under TPS,” he said. “An action that would deport thousands of men, women and children to the poorest country in the Americas contradicts the image we hold of ourselves and the leadership we seek to provide for the world.”
Earlier this week, a Trump administration official said acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke had determined the ‘‘extraordinary temporary conditions’’ in Haiti that justified the temporary immigration status ‘‘had sufficiently improved.’’
O’Malley said “it is a blessing” to work with immigrants in the Boston area, which has a high concentration of people from Haiti.
“There will be great pain and suffering as families will be separated and children possibly left behind as parents are deported,” the cardinal said. “These dire consequences will not end with deportation: returning to Haiti at this time means going back to a country still struggling to recover from the effects of a massive earthquake, the outbreak of cholera and the recent impact of Hurricane Matthew.”
He implored Congress and the White House to “rectify” matters and also urged Catholics to call for “a response to our Haitian neighbors that acknowledges both their dignity and our responsibility, a better and more humane response to men and women with families, with jobs which serve our communities, and with the hope to continue their lives in this good and generous nation.”
The decision affects more than 4,300 Haitians living in Massachusetts and parts of New Hampshire.
Those people will be expected to leave the United States by July 2019 or face deportation.Material from the New York Times, Washington Post, and Associated Press was used in this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.