It was the news tens of thousands of Haitian residents of the US were dreading: The administration has decided to end the Temporary Protected Status that shielded them from deportation after their country's 2010 earthquake. Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke announced Monday that the status will be lifted July 22, 2019, giving around 60,000 people 18 months to get their affairs in order and leave the country in an "orderly transition." The decision stunned Haitian-American advocates, who had called for an 18-month extension but didn't expect TPS to be canceled at the end of it, the Miami Herald reports. The Haitian TPS recipients have an estimated 27,000 US-born children.
"Since the 2010 earthquake, the number of displaced people in Haiti has decreased by 97%," Duke said. "Significant steps have been taken to improve the stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens." Lawmakers from both parties, however—especially in Florida, home to more than half the affected TPS holders—had argued against lifting the designation, saying Haiti is in no shape to accept 60,000 new arrivals and that the move would deprive the US construction industry of badly needed workers, the Washington Post reports. Those "sent home will face dire conditions, including lack of housing, inadequate health services, and low prospects for employment," Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said last week. (Thousands of Nicaraguans are also having their TPS protection removed.)