Last Friday, Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano granted temporary protected status to undocumented Haitians living in the United States -- a move that deep-sixes deportations to the country, allowing individuals to stay here up to eighteen months. Approximately 200,000 Haitians are expected to submit TPS applications.
Given that Haiti has been decimated by an earthquake that's precipitated a horrific human-rights criss, no one could object to that, right?
Wrong. Former congressman Tom Tancredo, who now fronts a nonprofit group called the Rocky Mountain Foundation, sees the Obama administration plan as "a sop, if you will, to that part of his base that wanted him to do something about amnesty [for illegal aliens]. He hasn't done it yet, so this is a way to throw them that bone.
"It really does exploit the whole problem, too. It doesn't do anything, really, for the people of Haiti. I think it's disingenuous."
Here are Tancredo's two main objections to TPS for Haitians in the U.S.:
"First of all, it's not accurate to suggest, which they do, that all these people were in the process of deportation simply because they were here illegally, and in order to save them from that state, they had to provide them with this protected status. No one gets deported simply because they're in the country illegally, even though they should. The only way you get deported is if you commit some other crime, and it usually has to be something serious. So the only people he's providing real sanctuary for are people who've done really nasty, really ugly things.
"The second thing is, we've seen this process before. It's not new. Clinton did it with El Salvador after the 1998 hurricane [Mitch, one of the deadliest storms in centuries]. Some of the people who ended up taking advantage of the TPS program then were the people we call MS-13, which is a gang -- probably the most violent gang in the United States today, and certainly the most bloodthirsty. Every one of the original bunch came out of that TPS program, which is still in effect twelve years later. It was supposed to have run for a year or maybe two, but it's still there -- and this one will never end, either."
Of course, as this New York Daily News article points out, "Individuals convicted of two misdemeanors or one felony are not eligible for TPS" -- and "some misdemeanor convictions bar individuals from getting TPS, though sometimes the law allows the USCIS [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services] to waive those bars."
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Nonetheless, Tancredo believes the only Haitians in the U.S. to benefit from TPS are "those people who've committed some other really heinous crime. And there's the distinct possibility that we'll get the same thing out of this that we got out of the El Salvador program -- which is MS-13 or something equally bad."
For those who believe Tancredo's insistence upon bringing up this issue now shows a decided lack of compassion, he has this to say:
"I've contributed money to the relief effort through my church and, let me tell you, I get sort of teary-eyed when I see those reports out of Haiti, and see those little kids. My wife said to me last night, 'Do you think we're too old to adopt?'" He laughs before continuing: "I said, 'I think so. I don't think they let people who are over the hill adopt a little kid.'
"But that's what's so annoying to me about TPS. It's so exploitive of the situation down there. There are some people who want to see us give amnesty to everyone here illegally, and this is a way to do it for 200,000 of them. And if they could figure out how to do it for the twenty million people here illegally, they would. They're taking advantage of a crisis to implement a public policy they couldn't have otherwise done."