By Safvan Allahverdi
Nearly 60,000 Haitians living and working in the U.S. since an earthquake struck their country will stop receiving protective status, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Monday.
They will be expected to leave the U.S. by July 2019 or face deportation.
The U.S. offered Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitians after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti in January 2010.
The DHS said in a press release that conditions in Haiti have improved significantly, so the program will be extended for the last time until July 2019 to give Haitians time to prepare to return home.
“Since the 2010 earthquake, the number of displaced people in Haiti has decreased by 97 percent,” the department noted. “Haiti is able to safely receive traditional levels of returned citizens.”
However, the decision has been criticized by Haitian advocates who say that living conditions in Haiti have not improved nearly enough for Haitians to be deported from the U.S.
The quake, which was the strongest to strike the region in more than 200 years, left more than 200,000 Haitians dead and around 895,000 homeless.