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US bars Haiti, Belize nationals from farm work programme

Featured People protest against US President Donald Trump's recent comments and tough stand on immigration near the Southern Boulevard bridge to Palm Beach near Mar-a-Lago, Florida Andrew Innerarity/Reuters People protest against US President Donald Trump's recent comments and tough stand on immigration near the Southern Boulevard bridge to Palm Beach near Mar-a-Lago, Florida Andrew Innerarity/Reuters
WASHINGTON, DC, USA The Trump administration has announced it is ending a programme permitting Haitians to enter the US on low-skilled Agricultural worker visas, a measure introduced by his predecessor Barack Obama after the Caribbean nation was struck by a devastating earthquake in 2010.

The announcement from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) comes less than a week after the President reportedly referred to Haiti and states in Africa as 's***hole countries' during a meeting on immigration in the Oval Office, sparking worldwide outrage and condemnation. Trump has denied using the word.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a regulatory filing that it was removing Haiti, as well as nationals from another Caribbean Community (Caricom) member state, Belize, as well as the South Pacific nation of Samoa from lists of more than 80 countries whose citizens can be granted H-2A and H-2B visas, given to seasonal workers in agriculture and other industries.

In the notice, published online, DHS said that Haitians applying for the visas “present extremely high rates of refusal” and Haitians who have been granted H2A and H2B visas “have demonstrated high levels of fraud and abuse and a high rate of overstaying the terms of their H2 admission”.

Concerning Belize, DHS said it stopped taking Belize applications because the country is not complying with US anti-trafficking laws.

Just a few dozen Haitians entered the United States on the visas each year since they were given permission to do so in 2012 by the Obama administration, according to DHS data.

Sixty-five Haitians entered the United States on H-2A visas, given for agricultural work, in the 2016 fiscal year, according to DHS data, and 54 Haitians were granted H-2A visas by the State Department between March and November 2017. The number of Haitians entering in 2016 on H-2B visas, which are for non-agricultural seasonal work, was more than zero but too low to report, according to DHS.

The DHS secretary designates which countries' residents are eligible for the visas. The list of eligible countries expires after a year and has to be renewed.

The Trump Administration also recently ended temporary protected status for about 60,000 Haitians granted them after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Supporters of the visas say they gave Haitians a rare opportunity to work legally in the United States, contribute to the US economy, and help fund the recovery of Haiti after the earthquake, which killed more than 200,000 people.

Humanitarian groups and Republican and Democratic members of Congress lobbied the Obama administration to make Haiti eligible for the short-term worker visas, arguing that remittances to family in Haiti would help the country recover from the earthquake. Without H-2A and H-2B visas, there are few legal avenues for most Haitians to go to the United States.

 

  • Countries: Haiti