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    US says it will expand, extend temporary status for Haitians

    AP – The Biden administration said on Monday that it would expand temporary legal status for Haitians already living in the United States (US), determining conditions in the Caribbean nation were too dangerous for their forced return.

    The US Homeland Security Department said Haitians who were in the US on November 6 could apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and those who were granted it last year could stay an additional 18 months until August 3, 2024.

    The administration has extended temporary status for several countries and expanded or introduced it for Haiti, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Myanmar, Cameroon and Venezuela, reversing a Trump-era trend to cut back on protections for those already in the US.

    TPS, which typically comes with authorisation to work, may be extended in increments up to 18 months for countries struck by natural disasters or civil strife. Haiti has seen increasingly brazen attacks by gangs that have grown more powerful since the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

    A cholera outbreak sweeping the country is claiming more children’s lives amid a surge in malnutrition.

    “The conditions in Haiti, including socioeconomic challenges, political instability, and gang violence and crime – aggravated by environmental disaster – compelled the humanitarian relief we are providing today,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

    Homeland Security didn’t say how many Haitians are expected to benefit from the expansion.

    An estimated 40,000 were granted TPS in 2011 – extended last month to June 30, 2024 – after a devastating earthquake in Haiti the previous year. Another 3,200 who got TPS last year are covered under Monday’s 18-month extension.

    Chaos in Haiti has fuelled an exodus to South America, Mexico and the US. The US flew many Haitians back home after about 16,000 predominantly Haitian migrants camped in the small Texas border town of Del Rio in September 2021.

    The administration used a Trump-era rule that suspends rights to seek asylum on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

    Deportations to Haiti appear to have waned as conditions have deteriorated. Witness at the Border, an advocacy group that tracks deportations, said on Monday that the administration hasn’t had a deportation flight to Haiti since September.

    Haitians who enter the US after Monday’s announcement will be ineligible for TPS, authorities said, though that may do little to discourage some.

    US authorities detained Haitians more than 6,700 times along the Mexican border in October.

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