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TPS Announcement Raises Concerns Among Haitian Community Activists In South Florida

Marleine Bastien directs FANM or Haitian Women of Miami.
Holly Pretsky
Marleine Bastien directs FANM or Haitian Women of Miami.

Thousands of Haitians that are under Temporary Protected Status (TPS)  in the United States  since the 2010 earthquake in the island received on Monday a six month reprieve, in what many advocates and activists in South Florida fear is the last extension of the immigration program. 

Marleine Bastien, director of  FANM or Haitian Women of Miami,  says it seems like this is six-month notice for Haitians to prepare to leave the country. 

"It is a termination, basically. They were trying to frame it as though it was a big win," said Marleine Bastien. "What I'm hearing really is turning my blood cold."

Bastien says she's advising the Haitian community, especially those with young, US-born children, to seek legal counsel.  

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly said on a statement on Monday that his department urges Haitians protected under TPS to "prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States... or to apply for other immigration benefits."

He also said that the DHS will review the status again before January.Haitian advocates and activists were calling for at least an 18 month extension. 

There are estimated to be between 50,000 and 60,000 Haitians living in the US with TPS. Bastien worries Haiti still isn't stable enough to support those people after the 2010 earthquake, Hurricane Andrew, and a recent Cholera outbreak.

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Holly Pretsky is a Colorado native who loves riding her bike around, eating tuna sandwiches, asking questions, and climbing mountains.She discovered radio storytelling when she won second place in an informal audio essay competition her sophomore year of college. The prize: a t-shirt from the local radio station. Since then, she's graduated from Colorado College and continued reporting in Colorado Springs and now Miami. One of her favorite things is learning about people who dedicate themselves to things she didn't know existed, and being reminded how much passion there is in the world.
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