Brooklyn elected officials applauded the move by the federal government to grant temporary protected status to Haitians living in this country.
The move had been urged by many prior to the January 15th announcement by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Among the first to call for the designation — which will be in effect for 18 months — was Flatbush City Councilmember Jumaane Williams.
Williams, who urged the designation initially during a press conference organized by Mayor Michael Bloomberg the day after a 7.0 earthquake hit the island, said in a subsequent interview that offering Haitians living in the United States temporary protected status would be an important move in stabilizing the troubled country.
“We need them to be productive residents so they can help rebuild Haiti,” Williams stressed.
Assemblymember Nick Perry agreed. In a statement, he remarked of undocumented immigrants from the island, “Granting these Haitians a reprieve from their shadowy existence allows them to use their skills productively towards building America.”
Members of the borough’s congressional delegation had also spoken in favor of the move, during a Borough Hall press conference last Thursday, and reacted positively to the news that the Obama administration had taken what they clearly believe to be a crucial step forward.
Representative Edolphus Towns noted that, thanks to the designation, “Haiti can focus its efforts on the search and rescue of its citizens, many of whom are still trapped beneath the rubble and in need of emergency medical care.”
“For Haitians in the United States, there is simply no option to return home now, and those who have been granted TPS can work in the United States and send resources home to their families and friends,”added Representative Nydia Velazquez, who called the designation “an immediate form of humanitarian aid.”
“I commend the president and Secretary Napolitano for their dedication to the Haitian people in light of such a dark and challenging time,” agreed Representative Yvette Clarke. “This is indeed a giant symbol of this administration’s support for the people of Haiti, both in this country and on the island.”
TPS, she noted, “does not lead to permanent residency status; when TPS expires, Haitians will revert to the same immigration status that they had prior to being granted TPS.”
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand also expressed support for the move, which she had previously requested, along with 18 other Senators.
“I want to thank President Obama for the measures he has taken to rescue Americans, deliver the aid that is needed on the ground in Haiti, and for granting Haitians living in America temporary protected status so they can live without fear of having to immediately return to a country ravaged with devastation,” Gillibrand said.