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Some 59,000 Haitians living in the U.S. under temporary status must leave within 18 months, the Trump administration announced Monday.
More than 30,000 of the Haitians affected by the order live in Florida, with another large concentration in New York City.
Haitians who entered the U.S. illegally have been protected against deportation since 2010 under a program known as Temporary Protected Status, which Congress created during the 1990s to avoid sending large numbers of people back to areas suffering from wars or natural disasters.
In Haiti’s case, the temporary status was granted in 2010, after a powerful earthquake devastated the island, which has long been among the poorest places in the Western Hemisphere.
In May, John F. Kelly, who was the secretary of Homeland Security at the time, said that conditions in Haiti had improved enough that the U.S. would be unlikely to continue extending the temporary protection. At the time, he extended Haitians’ protected status for six months, but urged them to prepare to leave the U.S.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine C. Duke reaffirmed that decision Monday, but provided an 18-month delay, until July 22, 2019, before the order to leave will become effective. Some of the Haitians currently covered by temporary status will be able to stay if they have other claims for legal immigration status, administration officials said.