Published On: Fri, Nov 24th, 2017

Why the end of deportation protection for Haitians in the US triggered concern in The Bahamas

henfieldNASSAU - The Bahamas is bracing for an influx of illegal migrants from neighbouring Haiti on the heels of Washington’s decision to end its Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for almost 60,000 Haitians working and living in the United States.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Darren Henfield has expressed fears that the Donald Trump administration’s move to end TPS, that allowed Haitians to remain in the country following the 2010 earthquake that devastated their country, will create more challenges for local border protection at a time when the country was “still grappling with the issue of how we curtail illegal landings on our border”.

He stressed the need for a multi-faceted approach with the support of Haitian authorities.

“What we are seeing from Haiti are basically economic refugees, economic migrants seeking a better way of life,” Henfield said. “And so our approach must be, I think, [broader]. It’s not just about securing our borders, but it should also involve other aspects of commercial activity, maybe by Bahamians in Haiti.”

However, he made it clear that Bahamas would continue to enforce its immigration laws and suggested that the United States could not be faulted for its decision to end the TPS initiative.

“I think Mr Trump is doing what he thinks is in the best interest of the United States, just as we in the Government of The Bahamas are doing what we believe is in the best interest of our country,” he said.

Minister Henfield added that The Bahamas would continue to keep a close eye on its borders while negotiating with the Haitian government to address the issue.

Earlier this week, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke said the United States’ decision to end provisional legal residency for Haitians came after it was determined that the extraordinary conditions caused by the earthquake, which justified their presence in the US, no longer exist.

She said an 18-month deadline for Haitians to get regularized or leave the US will allow for an orderly transition before the TPS designation terminates on July 22, 2019.

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