Trump blasted over decision to repatriate 59,000 Haitians

This article is more than 12 months old

WASHINGTON President Donald Trump on Tuesday faced a backlash over his tough immigration policies after deciding that 59,000 Haitians who took refuge in the United States following the 2010 earthquake must return home.

Politicians blasted the decision to repatriate the Haitians within 18 months, removing the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) they received after fleeing the disaster, which killed more than 200,000 people and destroyed much of Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince.

Protesters were planning to gather outside Mr Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, where the president was expected to arrive Tuesday afternoon for the Thanksgiving holiday.

While the decision was expected, critics said impoverished Haiti, which still has not recovered from the earthquake and has been wracked by huge hurricanes and a cholera epidemic since then, is not prepared for an influx of returnees.

In addition, the decision, announced on Monday by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), puts into limbo the fate of tens of thousands of children born to the Haitians in the US, giving them legal resident status.

In advance of the DHS decision, thousands of Haitians have travelled across the northern US border with Canada in recent months to seek asylum.

"There is no reason to criminalise, stigmatise, or deport the Haitians who benefitted from TPS. Doing so will break up tens of thousands of families, and will kill the hopes and dreams of so many who have made the United States their home," said Ms Gimena Sanchez of the Washington Office on Latin America advocacy group.

Legislators from both parties representing districts with large Haitian communities lashed out against the decision.

"There is no reason to send 60,000 Haitians back to a country that cannot provide for them. This decision today by DHS is unconscionable," Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, who represents Florida, said. - AFP