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TPS Ended for "Fake" Reasons According to Newly Released Docs



White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

The Trump administration is conducting a long march of destruction against the communities of immigrants protected by Temporary Protected Status (TPS). El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, and Nepal have all seen their TPS programs ended in the last six months. Three hundred thousand immigrants have had their lives thrown into turmoil by the president’s actions.

When each termination was announced, the Department of Homeland Security issued an announcement that the decision to end TPS was made after careful examination of the conditions in the country of origin and a full consultation with experts. Like so much else emanating from the president and his appointees, we now know that the assurances of proper consultation and consideration of all the relevant facts are just plain false.

First, documents establishing that experts within the Department of Homeland Security said that conditions in Haiti were not sufficiently improved to support ending TPS were released in April as part of a Freedom of Information Act action. Now, State Department cables from career diplomats in Central America reveal opposition to ending the programs from within the State Department itself.

The internal Homeland Security report from its own experts, said, regarding Haiti, that:

Although some progress regarding reconstruction and recovery has been made in a variety of sectors, billions of dollars in pledged foreign assistance never materialized, and the pace and scope of Haiti’s recovery has been uneven. Many of the conditions prompting the original January 2010 TPS designation persist, and the country remains vulnerable to external shocks and internal fragility. Haiti has also experienced various setbacks that have impeded its recovery, including a cholera epidemic and the impact of Hurricane Matthew…  

This was a far cry from the notice announcing the end of Haitian TPS which claimed that; “Based on all available information, including recommendations received as part of an inter-agency consultation process, Acting Secretary Duke determined that those extraordinary but temporary conditions caused by the 2010 earthquake no longer exist.”

The new revelation this week from the Washington Post is that State Department career staff cabled Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warning him not to end TPS for the Central American countries. According to the Washington Post, Trump’s aide Steve Miller contacted Tillerson and the Department of Homeland Security demanding the end of the programs and he triumphed over the experts.

The revelations about the termination of Haitian TPS led twelve Senators to write to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen questioning whether the “decision to terminate Haiti’s TPS were based on the conditions in Haiti-as required by law-or whether the decision was resulted from broader political concerns, including an animus towards the country and its nationals.”

Lurking behind the improper actions by Homeland Security and fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. The retired general has expressed an open hostility towards TPS programs since he first came to the Trump Administration as Secretary of Homeland Security. His bullying of Acting-Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke after she refused to terminate Honduran TPS in November made headlines at the time. 

Pat Young is an attorney at the Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) on Long Island and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra Law School. 

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