WASHINGTON — The chairs of the US bishops’ committees on migration and international justice and peace on Monday commended the Biden administration’s redesignation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status.

“We are grateful for this decision to redesignate Haiti for TPS, which acknowledges the serious challenges facing the island nation, including widespread violence, civil unrest, political instability, and food insecurity,” Bishop Mario Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington, and Bishop David Malloy of Rockford said May 24.

The Biden administration had on May 22 said it would resume TPS for Haiti for 18 months.

TPS, a policy begun in 1990, allows people who are unable safely to return to their home nations because of armed conflict, other violence, natural disasters, or other extraordinary and temporary circumstances to remain in the United States while the situation in their home country resolves. It protects them from deportation and grants them permission to work.

The bishops commented that Haiti ‘is widely recognized as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The Church in Haiti has been directly impacted by the unprecedented levels of gang activity—with targeted kidnappings of clergy, religious, and lay persons in recent months—adding to the need for an urgent response.”

“We stand with our brother bishops in condemning the lawlessness, and we join them in their solidarity with victims. We urge the Haitian government and President Moïse to act in the best interests of the Haitian people by respecting and upholding their rights and dignity. We also call on the Biden Administration to address the desperate conditions plaguing the country through diplomatic and humanitarian measures,” they said.

The decision was similarly greeted by Catholic Charities USA.

“Granting TPS recognizes the continued poverty-stricken conditions of Haiti and relieves those living here from their constant fear of deportation. This policy will benefit Haitians who are not yet able to return to their homeland, but want to live productive lives in the United States to support their loved ones back home,” Sr. Donna Markham, president of CCUSA, stated.

It is estimated there are 50,000 Haitians in the US with TPS.

The Haitian population with protected status arrived in the U.S. after a 2010 earthquake killed 200,000 and displaced 1 million people. In addition, the landfall of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 destroyed much of the island’s infrastructure.

The Trump administration had terminated the Haiti’s TPS designation in 2017. The administration said natural disasters from years previously should not continue to justify irregular residency.