The announcement by the Department of Homeland Security that Temporary Protected Status - and suspension of deportation - would be granted to Haitian nationals in the aftermath of the earthquake came as a relief to many. But in the days following the announcement the fate of Jean Montrevil, a Haitian immigrant, seemed to hang in limbo as he languished in a detention facility in York, Pennsylvania. But Jean's fate took a turn for the better on Saturday when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released him from detention.
Temporary Protected Status is a provision that allows nationals from countries afflicted by environmental disaster, armed conflict or other extraordinary temporary circumstances to remain in the United States for a period of eighteen months during which they can live and work legally. In tandem with Temporary Protected Status, the Obama administration announced the suspension of deportation to Haiti.
Jean Montrevil was scheduled for deportation to Haiti, the country of his birth, after being detained by ICE on December 30, when he reported for his regular supervised check-in. Jean's detention sparked a series of protests. Supporters called for his release and several clergymen were even arrested. The suspension of deportation to Haiti came at a critical time for Jean.
Jean Montrevil can breathe a sigh of relief - at least for the next eighteen months. In the meantime, instead of expending its resources to deport Jean to Haiti, ICE should exercise its discretion to grant Deferred Action or, in other words, an indefinite postponement of deportation.
Arlene M. Roberts is the author of The Faces of Detention and Deportation: A Report on the Forced Repatriation of Immigrants from the English-Speaking Caribbean.