Brooklyn leaders commit to keeping community informed about Temporary Protected Status
Many Voices, One Message
On the front steps of the historic Flatbush Dutch Reformed Church in Flatbush, Brooklyn, amidst the noise and congestion of a busy commercial street, Brooklyn Congregations United (BCU) along with allies and supporters, announced at a press conference August 3rd its continued commitment to informing the community about Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for undocumented Haitians following the January 12th earthquake. People came from as far as Belleville, NJ to join the crowd gathered on the corner of Church and Flatbush Avenues Tuesday morning.
"Right here, we have the largest Haitian community outside Haiti and Miami," said Brooklyn Councilmember Jumaane Williams. "Now we have to step up and catch up-our population needs to know that TPS can be trusted."
TPS allows eligible people to obtain work authorization and protection against deportation for the duration of the protected status. Those eligible for TPS-Haiti had to have been living in the United States on or before the January 12th earthquake. Initially, the 180-day registration period was from January 21, through July 20, 2010. During that time period USCIS in NY received approximately 7,500 applications out of an estimated 50,000 eligible Haitians, compared to over 30,000 who have applied in Florida. The registration deadline was recently extended for another 6 months to January 18, 2011. It is estimated that there are thousands of New Yorkers still eligible.
"Somebody might be scared," said Iranie Denis who was granted TPS during the first round of applications. "Now I have a social security number and work papers." Denis looks forward to finding a job to support herself and her 11 year old daughter, and furthering her education to create better opportunities for herself.
"We can help," said Andrea Quarantillo, New York Office Director for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). "We want you to know that you cannot be deported under TPS, that there are possibilities for application fee waivers, and that information on your application cannot be shared except under strict court orders," she said. Quarantillo also indicated that the TPS time period would likely be extended beyond 18 months.
For those Haitians who came to the U.S. after the earthquake, USCIS offers assistance in obtaining Deferred Action Status or an Extension of Authorized Stay in the United States.
Also recently granted TPS, Thierry Larosiliere says, "It takes guts to leave your country, but it also takes faith. Immigrants bring new ideas, our experience brings a new ‘take' and a new ‘look'....please embrace us."
Brooklyn Councilmember, Mathieu Eugene, longtime advocate for Haiti and "a pioneer of TPS" urged all who are qualified for TPS to apply. "Have no fear, do not fear deportations. A big thank you to USCIS, to our community members and leaders, to the clergy, and thank you to BCU for their commitment to this issue. Let's all continue to work together."
BCU was also joined by representatives of Congresswoman Yvette Clarke and NY State Senator Kevin Parker, Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs, Catholic Bishop Guy Sansaricq, Director of the National Center of the Haitian Apostolate, Monsignor Joseph Malagreca, Pastor of Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, Rev. Sully Guillaume-Sam, Curator of St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church, and representatives from 1199 SEIU, Brooklyn Defender Services, CAMBA, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, Catholic Migration Office of the Brooklyn Diocese, Erasmus Neighborhood Federation, Haitian Family Support Center of the Haitian First Church of the Brethren, International Humanitarian Outreach Ministries Inc., Lutheran Social Services of NY, NY Legal Assistance Group, and NYS Haitian Bilingual/ESL Technical Assistance Center.
August 3rd was just the beginning. BCU plans ongoing outreach efforts to the Haitian community for TPS and to continue the push for comprehensive immigration reform.