This week, the Trump administration announced its decision to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian immigrants. As we head into the holiday, we cannot help but see this unacceptable decision as terribly ironic, though despicably unsurprising. As we head into Thanksgiving and reflect on our history as a people and a nation, it is essential that we first and foremost recognize that we live on stolen land. Only the indigenous people have inherent and original claim to calling this place home. Yet along the way, we twisted the narrative so that Columbus rose as the hero and our sense of entitlement over this land became justified.
We are not entitled to this land, but we have made it home. The Pilgrims came to America seeking religious freedom and chasing prosperity. In the centuries since, many of our families came to this country seeking refuge and chasing opportunity. We were once strangers, we were once lost, but we made a home here and in it found the promise of new tomorrows. We, therefore, cannot celebrate a day of Thanksgiving, a day intended to memorialize new beginnings and new bonds, while turning our backs on our neighbors and peers who too came searching for home and tomorrow.
Approximately 60,000 Haitians were granted TPS after a deadly earthquake hit Haiti in 2010. For the past seven years, seven years of building community and careers, TPS eased their fear of deportation. However, because of the administration’s decision that fear will be realized within the next 18 months.
The administration decision is, in part, premised on its belief that Haiti is in a condition to have immigrants return. However, as Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL-27) tweeted: “I travelled to #Haiti after the earthquake in 2010 and after hurricane Matthew in 2016. So I can personally attest that #Haiti is not prepared to take back nearly 60,000#TPS recipients under these difficult and harsh conditions.
While Department of Homeland Security’s decision seems finale and absolute, we know that the people’s voices have the power to compel change. After the announcement regarding elephant trophy hunting, “public outrage… forced Trump to reconsider.”
Today, we are again outraged. Today, we will again channel that outrage into power. We will use the power in our voices and uplift the power of the voices around us to push back against these repeated attacks on humanity and the mounting injustices. We will work to force Trump to reconsider and continue working until gambling with people’s lives is no longer political sport.