McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — The Biden administration is giving Haitian asylum-seekers living in the United States two months to file for or extend their Temporary Protected Status.
But an app for Haitians living elsewhere who want to apply for U.S. asylum is still not available in their native Creole language, migrant advocates say.
The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday posted in the Federal Register information on how Haitians in the United States can extend or apply for TPS status through Aug. 3, 2024. This will allow them to legally continue to work in the United States while they wait out their immigration asylum process.
Registrations went live on Thursday for first-time applicants.
Those wanting to extend their TPS may apply with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services starting Feb. 4. The deadline to register is March 27.
Under the process, up to 107,000 current beneficiaries will be allowed to retain TPS as long as they meet certain eligibility requirements, DHS officials said.
Only Haitians who have continuously been living in the United States since Nov. 6 are eligible for TPS. Applicants must submit a Form I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status, as well as a Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization, in order to be eligible to work in the United States.
Thousands of Haitians claimed asylum in the United States in 2021, when they crossed into a shallow area of the Rio Grande into the border town of Del Rio, Texas.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas redesignated Haitians eligible for TPS due to the turmoil, gangs, violence and disasters that are plaguing the Caribbean island nation. In doing so, Haitians who have been in the United States prior to Nov. 6 but had not previously applied for TPS are now eligible to do so. This also applies to “individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in Haiti,” according to the Federal Register.
In a tweet Friday, Guerline Jozef, executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance nonprofit organization, touted the Biden administration for extending TPS to Haitians.
“We welcome the administration’s support for Haitian immigrants through the TPS program that will provide them protection from deportation. In addition, they will be able to obtain employment authorization to provide for themselves and their families with dignity, pay taxes and give back to their community. On behalf of our community members, we send a strong mesi anpil (thank you),” Jozef tweeted.
Jozef visited Reynosa, Mexico, recently and met with Haitian asylum-seekers living in shelters and in the border town that is just south of McAllen, Texas.
According to reports, the organization tweeted that many Haitians expressed to her their concerns over their inability to apply for asylum via the new mandatory CBP One app because it is not available in Haitian Creole.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced starting Jan. 6 that asylum-seekers from Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela would be returned to Mexico if they tried to cross into the United States. And beginning Jan. 12 they must apply for an asylum interview via the CBP One app.
“The CBP One application and all materials related to it must be translated into Haitian Creole immediately, ensuring that the program is just as accessible to Haitians as it should be for Cubans, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans. We are already seeing rampant misinformation and scams around this program, and the lack of equity around language access is opening yet another avenue for the exploitation of Haitian migrants who are left confused, frustrated and in limbo. We question why the administration — who recognized the importance of language accessibility in translating the application into Spanish — thought it appropriate to launch a program geared towards Haitians without taking the most basic fact into account: the national language of Haiti is Haitian Creole. We are extremely disappointed that once again the system continues to fail Black migrants in search of protection,” Jozef said in a statement.
Other complaints so far associated with the app are that some asylum-seekers are being given interviews in border cities hundreds of miles away.
On Friday, USCIS released its Fiscal Years 2023-2026 Strategic Plan, which included “increasing access to the nation’s immigration system and promoting and improving the naturalization process.”
The top three USCIS goals, according to the plan, include:
- Strengthening the U.S. immigration system
- Investing in the U.S. workforce by attracting, recruiting and maintaining a “diverse, flexible, and resilient workforce”
- Promoting effective and efficient management and “balance” among the agency to meet demands and priorities
“USCIS is reducing barriers to immigration benefits and services — and we have much more to do to achieve the Biden-Harris Administration’s vision for our nation’s immigration system, one that is based on trust, strength, inclusion, integrity, and accessibility,” USCIS Director Ur Jaddou said in a statement.