MIAMI – Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas spent about an hour Tuesday with about 40 of the most influential members of South Florida’s Haitian-American community.
“I was able to hear of the hopes and aspirations of the community members who represent so many,” Mayorkas said of his Miami visit.
It comes after the Biden’s DHS last weekend did what the Trump administration would not, granting an 18-month extension of temporary protected status, a clear sign the new administration sees political, social and COVID crises in Haiti.
Before that announcement, TPS for Haitians was to expire in October.
Those who met with Mayorkas on Tuesday say they are grateful, but that they are looking for a more permanent solution.
“We are hopeful that Congress will pass much-needed immigration reform that will in fact provide a more lasting, enduring solution,” Mayorkas said.
Those invited to the roundtable had a lot to say to the secretary.
“We’re looking toward a pathway to citizenship for people who have TPS,” said Santra Denis of Miami Workers Center. “It’s 18 months — 18 months goes like that.”
Marleine Bastien of the Family Action Network Movement added that a “piecemeal approach ... wont work.”
Beyond a more permanent status for those who have made lives here — some for more than a decade since the 2010 earthquake — advocates want to hear how the United States will empower Haiti’s population opposed to President Jovenel Moise, who is now in power by decree.
“Billions of dollars poured into Haiti, but now it has dissolved into corruption and to gangs,” said U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens.
Local 10 News also took the opportunity to ask Mayorkas, as head of Homeland Security and a Jewish man, about the alarming rise in antisemitic attacks nationwide.
Addressing ideologies of hate as a whole, he said: “I’m profoundly concerned about the threat that violent extremism poses to our homeland. That is one of the most urgent priorities that we in the Department of Homeland Security are executing.”