US Coast Guard officials escort Haitian migrants/photo credit:coastguardnews.com

WASHINGTON, CMC – The United States says it will deport Haitians who arrived here after the January 12 catastrophic earthquake that left an estimated 200,000 people dead and more than one million homeless in the Caribbean nation.

“Haitians need to be there (in Haiti) to help rebuild their country,” US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters, adding “this is not an opportunity for migration”.

Last week, Washington announced that it was granting Temporary Protected Status (TSP) to an estimated 100,000 Haitians living illegally in the US before the earthquake struck.

Napolitano said the US granted TPS for Haitians “living and working in our country for the next 18 months.

“Providing a temporary refuge for Haitian nationals whose personal safety would be endangered by returning to Haiti is part of this administration’s continuing effort to support Haiti’s recovery,” she said.

The Obama administration had come under increasing pressure to grant TPS to Haitians here, especially in the wake of the massive earthquake that devastated the French-speaking Caribbean country.

But, while legislators with Caribbean ties here have welcomed the US initiative, one, at least, has gone further in urging the Obama Administration to grant “total amnesty” for the undocumented Haitians.

New York State Assemblyman Nick Perry, who represents the predominantly West Indian 58th Assembly District in Brooklyn, said the 18-month TPS is too short a reprieve for Haitians.

“The best thing America can do for Haitians is to put the Amnesty bill in quick motion,” Perry told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).

“That would benefit the Haitians here and elevate their status to permanent residence. Haiti is a special case. People [Haitians] who are here have nothing to go back to,” he said.