As many are aware, On November 20, 2017, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announced her decision to terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Haiti with a delayed effective date of 18 months to allow for an orderly transition before the designation terminates on July 22, 2019.
While this decision is unfortunate and is a frightful reality for many Haitians, it is one that we must not ignore and that we must prepare for diligently. I implore all my fellow Haitian brothers and sisters who have TPS to start planning and strategizing now. The Trump administration is very serious about their plans to deport as many “illegal” immigrants as possible.
With that said, here are 5 tips for those with TPS:
Disclaimer: I am not an immigration expert nor am I a lawyer.
1. Keep a low profile! Keep in mind that because you were under temporary status, the government knows where you live and where you work. I am not encouraging anyone to break the law by staying in the country illegally, however, if that is the risk that you wish to take, please be smart about it. You don’t necessarily have to move to a new state, but you might want to consider moving to a different address and finding a new source of income that is “under the table”.
2. Secure all your assets! If you own properties, a car, or a business, you might want to consider putting them under a trustworthy friend or family member’s name who is a legal U.S. Citizen. The last thing you want is for your prized possessions to be repossessed because you are being forced to flee the country. Be sure that you have a legal contract/agreement with whomever you will be entrusting your possessions to—EVEN IF THEY ARE FAMILY MEMBERS!
3. If you are in a romantic relationship with a U.S. Citizen, GET MARRIED! While I don’t believe that marriage is the answer, it is an option! If you love the person and you can see yourself with them long-term, don’t delay! Get married.
4. Go back to Haiti on your own terms. You have over a year from today to get yourself in order before things start to shake up. Why not start saving some money so that you can make a life for yourself in Haiti? Start getting in contact with some of your old friends and with your family members who are back home, and start rebuilding relationships with them. Begin shipping your belongings to Haiti and establish where you would live if you would have to return. Brainstorm how you would financially support yourself. Will you start a business? Do you need to start applying for jobs? You should be thinking about all of that now. Lastly, take a trip back to Haiti to visit before July 22, 2019 if you haven’t been back there in a long time. The last thing you want to experience is a culture shock, so if you are able, purchase a ticket and go familiarize yourself with the area in Haiti that you are most likely to end up in. (I will be uploading a list of available jobs in Haiti on my website within the next few weeks!)
5. Have your kids apply for DACA! Though DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is being threatened by the current administration, it is another option that can be considered if it is renewed and if your kids are eligible.
I certainly do not have all the answers, and some may not agree with these tips, but I hope that I was able to help someone. Feel free to share!
Jennifer M. Joseph
Jennifer M. Joseph