Commentary: TPS, Haitians and President Donald Trump

Commentary: TPS, Haitians and President Donald Trump

By Jean H Charles

Come next July 22, 2017, the Temporary Protected Status (TPS), accorded to some 60.000 Haitians migrants who fled their ravaged country after the earthquake of January 12, 2010, that may have killed some 300.000 people, will come to a determination for cancellation or renewal by the president of the United States. The Department of Justice has recommended to the Trump administration to cancel the TPS privilege on behalf of those Haitian people on the rationale there has been sufficient progress in recovery in their home country.

Jean H Charles LLB, MSW, JD, is a regular contributor to the opinion section of Caribbean News Now.  He can be reached at

Countless numbers of organizations, including the Catholic Church and politicians of both sides of the aisle, in particular Haitian American New York Council member Mathieu Eugene have all advocated to the president to renew the TPS for the Haitians for the regular two-year cycle.

Such demand is made on the ground that recurrent disasters have occurred in the country, such as recent hurricane Matthew that devastated the entire southern part of the country in August 2016 and the cholera epidemic wrought by the United Nations in 2010 that killed 9,200 and infected some 77,000 more people. To this calamity one must add the generalized misery of the population due to constant political upheaval.

President Donald Trump in his campaign pledged to rid America of illegal immigrants who reportedly take jobs from Americans. He has been going into a tug of war with the Democratic Party as well as the judiciary in implementing his goal of building a wall on the border between Mexico and the United States and closing the airport gates for citizens of some Muslim countries with a propensity of recruiting ISIS fighters.

By contrast, President Donald Trump has a soft heart for refugees, who suffer discrimination or oppression because of their religious beliefs; he let in Syrian Coptics who were cornered by Muslim fanatics in their own homeland. Catholic Haiti has the full support of the American bishops who have made a strong stance on their behalf to President Trump.

In addition, I must add that the Haitian migrants who benefited from the TPS status have developed roots in the country; they have bought homes and properties and they have children who are now American citizens, frequenting schools and mingling with their counterparts. A proposal to send their parents back to Haiti will create such a social imbroglio that no department of Social Services in the United States could decipher.

At a recent rally in front of New York City Hall sponsored by Councilman Eugene Mathieu, attended by the only Haitian American bishop, Mgr. Guy Sansarick, I was asked to speak by Eugene, I to the opportunity to add another layer to the humanitarian grounds for ruling on behalf of the Haitians: I said President Trump owes a dime to the Haitian people in particular the Haitian American voters from Florida.

Akin to the Hassidic Jews, the Haitian American community tends to vote en bloc following counsel from their leader. They have voted en masse for Donald Trump in the last election. This time around, for an immigrant population that tends to vote the Democratic agenda, due to the alleged misappropriation of the world’s financial support for Haiti after the earthquake by Bill Clinton and his associates, it switched its allegiance to the Republican candidate.

Some $11 billion was promised for or remitted to the Haitian Fund for recovery. Seven years later not much impact or result could be seen in the life, the institutions or the infrastructure of the country. The Haitian people see Bill Clinton as well as his wife Hillary Clinton as Molière, the famous French writer, reflected about his benefactor Cardinal Richelieu: “He has done too much harm towards me to be grateful to him, and too much good for me to say bad things about him.”

Hillary Clinton could add the Haitian-Americans to the list of those who robbed her of the victory, in addition to Wikileaks, the Russians and the FBI Director. At the Women’s Power Luncheon held on April 17, 2017, in New York and hosted by the National Action Network, the organization led by Reverend Al Sharpton, I introduced myself to Mrs Omarosa Manigault Newman, President Trump’s assistant and director of communications and public liaison at the White House.

In our conversation I made the pitch to remind the president that the Haitian people should be on his preferred list because they were supporters of his candidacy. Florida went his way in part because of the demonstrated advocacy of the Haitian leaders on the voters to cast their ballots on behalf of the Republican nominee.

In addition, the United States has an historical debt towards Haiti. That country was the only one in the hemisphere that stood by America in its fight to win its independence from England by sending 400 troops from St Marc Haiti to participate in the Battle of Savannah. In addition, but for the Haitian Revolution, the Louisiana Purchase could not have taken place. Napoleon Bonaparte, dejected from his defeat in Haiti, abandoned his plan for an American empire and sold the Louisiana territory for pennies to Thomas Jefferson. Jean Baptiste le Sabre, a Haitian born in St Marc, Haiti, is the founder of Chicago. The first and only prospective black American saint, Pierre Toussaint is of Haitian origin.

For these reasons and many more, President Donald Trump should profit from the special Haitian Flag Day coming on May 18 to sign the TPS extension for them. They are, in general, law abiding citizens who just deserve a chance to serve a country willing to adopt them.

I am glad to report that Mrs Omarosa Newman was most responsive to the advocacy. To quote her own answer: “We want them here, they will not be deported; the TPS extension will be signed.”

In the light of today’s fake news making its way into legitimate news, May 18 is around the corner, we will soon know whether we can count on the affirmation of a public official given willingly. In the meantime, Haitian TPS holders stay calm, everything will be alright, the American institutions are on your side, thank them profusely, and President Trump is inclined to rule on your behalf in spite of the dissenting advice of his Department of Justice, which finds Haiti is safe enough for your return to a home still in turmoil and filled with today natural catastrophes due to prolonged national governmental indolence and international interference!