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Haitians fear being forced to go home if special immigration status ends


  • A man argues with a Haitian National Police officer March 1 as a police line blocks a street during a march calling for better labor conditions in Port-au-Prince. Haitians in the U.S. since a devastating 2010 earthquake are urging the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to renew their Temporary Protected Status designation because conditions have not appreciably improved in their homeland. (CNS photo/Andres Martinez Casares, Reuters)
  • A Haitian woman, who gave her name as Cilotte, takes a taxi to the U.S.-Canada border April 26 from Champlain, N.Y. Haitians in the U.S. since a devastating 2010 earthquake are urging the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to renew their Temporary Protected Status designation because conditions have not appreciably improved in their homeland. (CNS photo/Christine Muschi, Reuters)

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Wilson Jean-Baptiste is worried that in less than a year, he and his wife, Myrlande, will be left with a stark question: What to do if the U.S. government orders her to move back to Haiti because she no longer has protected status under immigration law.

"To go where?" he asked. "Haiti is wiped out."

Wilson Jean-Baptiste, a U.S. citizen who lives in Boston and asked that the couple's names be changed in case his wife decides to stay in the U.S. illegally, described Haiti as no better off than when he came north more than 40 years ago.

He told Catholic News Service May 11 that his homeland may even be worse as it struggles to recover from a devastating 2010 earthquake.

Myrlande Jean-Baptiste is in the U.S. as a Temporary Protected Status holder. The status was designated by the U.S. Department of State for Haiti days after the earthquake, allowing Haitian nationals in the country to stay because of adverse conditions in their homeland.

The couple fears separation. It would not be good for their 11-year-old son, Wilson Jean-Batiste said.

The Jean-Baptistes are among more than 58,000 Haitians facing the possible forced return to their homeland if the Temporary Protected Status designation, or TPS, is not renewed by Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly. The decision whether to extend this designation must be made by May 23. The deadline allows for a 60-day comment period before the status expires July 22.

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