Coalition Letter Calling for Immediate Redesignation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status

View a PDF of this letter here. 

May 20, 2021

President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
3801 Nebraska Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20016

The Honorable Antony J. Blinken
U.S. Secretary of State
Harry S. Truman Building
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037


Dear President Biden, Secretary Blinken, and Secretary Mayorkas:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 220 national organizations, and the following 112 organizations, we write to call for an immediate redesignation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) considering the widespread violence, civil and political unrest, economic and humanitarian strife, and the COVID-19 crisis and lack of available vaccines. TPS is an effective and proven policy tool to ensure that the United States does not return anyone to a country that has become temporarily unsafe for its residents. Given the worsening conditions in Haiti, redesignating TPS status is warranted and necessary.


TPS is a statutory status given to nationals of a certain country living in the United States if conditions in the country make return unsafe. The secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with the advice of the U.S. Secretary of State (DOS) may designate a country for TPS if conditions in the country meet requirements regarding ongoing armed conflict, natural disasters (including epidemics), or other extraordinary and temporary conditions in the country that temporarily prevent safe return. TPS provides protection from deportation and permission to work in the United States for the duration of the designation.



The Obama administration designated Haiti for TPS after the devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake that left 300,000 Haitians dead and 1.5 million persons displaced, along with a decimated infrastructure. Since then, Haiti has continued to suffer from one crisis after another, from cholera outbreak, hurricanes, drought, wide-spread food insecurity, and most recently, significant political violence and instability. All these factors have made it virtually impossible for the nation to rebuild itself. As such, Haiti continued to receive TPS extension until the Trump administration terminated it in November 2017. Since then, two federal courts enjoined the decision from taking effect.

Current Conditions Continue to Deteriorate:

Haiti is suffering from a fresh wave of lethal widespread, political violence and national upheaval. These new realities are extraordinary and temporary conditions that warrant an immediate 18-month redesignation of TPS. DOS issued a level 4 notice against travelling to Haiti because of the country’s deadly conditions. Specifically, the travel advisory states “do not travel to Haiti due to crime, civil unrest, kidnapping, and COVID-19…”[1] highlighting the rampant violence, widespread demonstrations and riots, and political turmoil with an unstable central regime. Since January 2020, the political situation has been fraught with instability, with the national government seemingly pivoting toward authoritarianism after President Jovenel Moïse dissolved Parliament — following parliamentarians’ mandates expiring due to delayed elections — and decided to rule unconstitutionally by executive decree.[2] This governmental instability and lack of legitimacy have contributed to impunity and widespread violence. According to Human Rights Watch’s 2021 World Report, Haiti is currently experiencing one of the worst outbreaks of violence in decades.[3] Haitians of all ages face powerful gangs who rule with impunity and in some cases with government complicity. [4] The lack of rule of law also makes it difficult to hold those responsible for the ever-increasing violence accountable. [5]

In addition to the widespread violence and political turmoil, Haiti also has extremely high food insecurity. “According to international agencies, some 4.1 million Haitians — more than a third — live with food insecurity, and 2.1 percent of children suffer severe malnutrition.”[6] All these recent factors rise to the level of extraordinary and temporary conditions from which Haiti will need to recover before it can welcome back its nationals from the United States.

Moreover, Haiti does not have any COVID-19 vaccines to treat its own population let alone deportees arriving from the United States. Haiti is also without adequate resources to test its ailing population to determine the sheer scale of the health crisis. There are reports that only 756,000 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine could arrive by May, at the earliest, but credible sources expect delays. With 11 million people living in dire conditions, the current lack of testing and limited number of doses projected within the coming months is inadequate. Deporting Haitians from the United States to face such conditions is, in some cases, tantamount to a death sentence given the lack of support and resources available. Instead of sending individuals into a dire situation, we expect our leaders to act in response and send medical relief, including test kits, ventilators, and vaccines to help Haiti fight the COVID-19 pandemic — not to worsen it.


It is in the interest of U.S. national security and foreign policy to issue an immediate 18-month TPS redesignation for Haiti. TPS promotes recovery, development, and stability by preserving and increasing the flow of remittances back to the country and directly into the pockets of people who can use the money to survive through the purchase of food and medicine, and to thrive though the support of education, rebuilding infrastructure, and starting small businesses. With the Biden administration’s recent designations of Burma and Venezuela for TPS, and redesignation of Syria for TPS, recommending Haiti’s redesignation would align naturally with the administration’s foreign policy agenda to protect vulnerable communities from returning to hostile regimes. Indeed, TPS redesignation for Haiti was a central feature of the Biden campaign and enjoys bipartisan support [7] precisely because it is in our national interests to prevent further destabilization of fragile nations.

On October 5, 2020 in Little Haiti, the Biden campaign “vowed to halt deportations for Haitians during his first 100 days, immediately review the Trump administration’s decision to terminate TPS, offer a path to citizenship for TPS holders, and reinstate the Haitian Family Reunification Parole program.”[8] Moreover, Senators Rubio and Menendez called for TPS redesignation for Haiti on March 12, 2021 in a letter to Secretary Mayorkas because this policy ask enjoys broad bipartisan support.[9] And on April 26, 2021, 69 members of Congress sent a letter laying out strong human rights and foreign policy arguments and making a compelling case, which we echo. [10]

If we expect allies in Haiti and around the world to heed our calls for democracy and human rights, then we too must comply with international norms — including not deporting persons to conflict zones during a global pandemic. Today, the circumstances in Haiti are dire, and deporting Haitians to a country struggling to get its political footing will only further destabilize it. Haiti’s infrastructure has been devastated since the 2010 earthquake and cannot absorb additional persons at this time. As a global leader, U.S. legitimacy requires that we lead by example, which is why — given the totality of the factors on the ground coupled with the global pandemic — we must put in place an 18-month redesignation for TPS for Haiti.


Offering help, safety, and security to those in need is foundational to U.S. values, which the State Department promotes as part of its diplomatic mission around the world. With Haiti rapidly descending with devastating human consequences, it is imperative that our nation ensures nationals and those who habitually last resided in Haiti can remain here. Even under the devastating impact of humanitarian strife and recent events, Haiti can build toward a stronger future with the support of its allies and humanitarian aid.

In line with the above policy principles, we urge you to advise in favor of granting the maximum protection possible through an 18-month redesignation for Haiti. This relief will not only benefit and protect Haitian individuals in the United States, but also their families and communities here and in Haiti.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Please contact Wade Henderson, Interim CEO and President of The Leadership Conference at [email protected] to discuss this urgent matter at your earliest convenience.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
ACLU People Power Fairfax
ADL (the Anti-Defamation League)
African Public Affairs Committee
Alianza Americas
America’s Voice
American Friends Service Committee
American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)
American Jewish World Service
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
America’s Voice
Ansara Family Fund
Arriba Las Vegas Worker Center
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC
Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP)
Austin Region Justice for Our Neighbors
Beyond Borders
Black Alliance for Just Immigration
Center for American Progress
Center for Gender & Refugee Studies
Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism – California State University, San Bernardino
Central Washington Justice For Our Neighbors
Centro Legal de la Raza
Church World Service
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)
Congregation Action Network
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
Courage California
Cumberland Valley Rising
Detention Watch Network
Diaspora Community Services
Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries
Doctors for Camp Closure
Episcopal Refugee and Immigrant Center Alliance
Faith in Public Life
Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement
Families Rights Network
Family Action Network Movement
FANM In Action
Florida Immigrant Coalition
Fondasyon Mapou
Forum on Haitian Migration in the Americas
Free Migration Project
Friends of MatÃnwa
Gender Action
Haiti Partners
Haitian Bridge Alliance
Hispanic Unity of Florida, Inc.
Human Rights Initiative of North Texas
Immigrant Allies of Marshalltown
Immigrant Justice Ministry of Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church
Immigrant Justice Network
Immigrant Legal Center
Immigration Hub
Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH)
Institute for the Geography of Peace (GeoPaz)
International Tribunal of Conscience of Peoples in Movement
Just Futures Law
Just Haiti, Inc.
Justice For Our Neighbors – North Central Texas
Latin America Working Group (LAWG)
Latino Racial Justice Circle
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Legal Aid Justice Center
Louisiana Advocates for Immigrants in Detention
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Maryland Against ICE Detention
Maryland Latinos Unidos (MLU)
Maryland Legislative Coalition
Migrant Center for Human Rights
Mississippi Center for Justice
National Council of Jewish Women
National Employment Law Project
National Immigrant Justice Center
National Immigration Law Center
National Immigration Project (NIP-NLG)
National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights
National Partnership for New Americans
New York Immigration Coalition
New York Justice for Our Neighbors, Inc.
Northern Illinois Justice for Our Neighbors
Our Revolution Montgomery County Chapter
Oxfam America
Project Blueprint
Project Lifeline
Public Counsel
Quixote Center
Resources for Immigrant Support and Empowerment (RISE) of Western MD
Sanctuary DMV
SPLC Action Fund
SSND Atlantic-Midwest Province
Takoma Park Mobilization, Equal Justice Committee
Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors
The Global Justice Clinic at NYU School of Law*
The Haitian Women’s Collective
The Legal Aid Society (New York)
Transformations CDC
UndocuBlack Network
Union for Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice
Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations
Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy
Witness at the Border
WOLC Immigration Services
Women Watch Afrika

*The Global Justice Clinic’s signature does not represent NYU School of Law’s institutional views, if any.


[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Travel Advisory, 

[2] Human Rights Watch, Haiti,

[3] Human Rights Watch, Haiti,

[4] Human Rights Watch, Haiti,

[5] Human Rights Watch, Haiti,

[6] Human Rights Watch, Haiti,

[7] Senate Letter Calling for Haiti to get TPS,

[8] Jacqueline Charles, Oct. 5, 2020, The Miami Herald, Biden to Haitian-American voters: You can help decide the next U.S. president

[9] Senate Letter Calling for Haiti to get TPS,

[10] Senate Letter Calling for Haiti to get TPS,