US offers protected status for Haitian immigrants

Julie Bermane
Julie Bermane

Julie Bermane, sitting, waits in line for more than three hours to speak with a lawyer regarding her legal status in the United States, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010 in Miami. The Obama administration is allowing Haitians who were in the United States illegally on Jan. 12 to apply for temporary protected status. The status will allow Haitians to stay for 18 months and work while earthquake recovery continues on their home island. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas says applications can be filed as soon as official notice is published in the Federal Register, probably Thursday.

J Pat Carter/The Associated Press
Published: Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 2:34 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 2:34 p.m.

NEWARK, N.J. — Thursday marks the start of a program that offers qualifying Haitian immigrants already in the United States the chance to legally remain here and get work permits.

Haitian immigrants hope the temporary protected status program will help them send a badly needed infusion of U.S. dollars to struggling family members in Haiti.

Immigrant rights groups, community centers and churches in Haitian communities across the U.S. have been fielding inquiries about the program, helping people with paperwork and spreading the word.

Immigration officials say only those who were in the U.S. on the day of the earthquake or before it struck, and who meet additional criteria, are eligible to apply for the 18-month reprieve.

They say as many as 200,000 Haitians might apply.

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