Since 2010, tens of thousands of Haitian immigrants were displaced in the aftermath of an earthquake and given the opportunity to live in the United States under the Temporary Protected Status program.
Usually, if the condition of the immigrants’ home country has improved, officials would consider sending them back home. However, as the Trump administration weighs keeping Haitian immigrants in the program, officials are digging up their criminal history.
In an email obtained by the Associated Press, the agency’s policy chief, Kathy Nuebel Kovarik, is also looking into how many of the 50,000 Haitians in the program are receiving public benefits, which they are not eligible for.
“I do want to alert you … the secretary is going to be sending a request to us to be more responsive,” Kovarik wrote on April 27. When the staff was unable to provide extensive criminal history on the immigrants, she wrote. “I know some of it is not captured, but we’ll have to figure out a way to squeeze more data out of our systems.”
“Please dig for any stories (successful or otherwise) that would show how things are in Haiti — i.e. rebuilding stories, work of nonprofits, how the U.S. is helping certain industries,” Kovarik wrote the next day.
“We should also find any reports of criminal activity by any individual with [Temporary Protected Status]. Even though it’s only a snapshot and not representative of the entire situation, we need more than ‘Haiti is really poor’ stories.”
According to the Associated Press, the criminal history request will not be used to make a decision about the program, but to get a better understanding about who is in the program.
A decision has yet to be made on the future of the program.