TPS program for Haitians in US extended for 6 months

Pressure has been mounting as Haitians living in the U.S. awaited a decision by the Trump Administration to extend the Temporary Protected Status program. But they learned on Monday that the program has been extended for six months, U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Florida, confirmed.

“Following a meeting last week with Haitian Senators Wilfrid Gélin and Wanique Pierre, I decided to wage a Twitter storm in a last-ditch effort to save the nation’s Temporary Protected Status designation,” Wilson said in a statement. “We invited the Haitian diaspora and international community to participate in the storm, during which we tagged the Department of Homeland Security and urged followers to call the agency to demand that the program be saved. This morning, DHS called my office to inform us that Haiti’s TPS designation has received a six-month extension.”

The Department of Homeland Security issued a formal notice Monday afternoon on the matter.

The program, which grants work permits and legal residency, was in limbo unless it was renewed by the Trump administration.

The future of some 50,000 Haitians depended on the decision, as the program was set to expire on July 22.

A crowd of people showed their Haitian pride earlier this month outside the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Miami field office in northwest Miami-Dade. 

Across from the federal building at 8801 NW 7 Ave., the crowd chanted: “Donald Trump! TPS now!”

The decision to extend the program was in the hands of John F. Kelly, Trump’s secretary of Homeland Security. Earlier this year, he requested an analysis of the criminal history of Haitians living in the U.S.

“After careful review of the current conditions in Haiti and conversations with the Haitian government, I have decided to extend the designation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status for a limited period of six months,” Kelly said in a statement. “Haiti has made progress across several fronts since the devastating earthquake in 2010, and I’m proud of the role the United States has played during this time in helping our Haitian friends.

“The Haitian economy continues to recover and grow, and 96 percent of people displaced by the earthquake and living in internally displaced person camps have left those camps. Even more encouraging is that over 98 percent of these camps have closed.

“Also indicative of Haiti’s success in recovering from the earthquake seven years ago is the Haitian government’s stated plans to rebuild the Haitian president’s residence at the National Palace in Port-au-Prince and the withdrawal of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti.”

Former President Barack Obama allowed the TPS to protect Haitians in the U.S. after the 2010 earthquake. Immigration authorities have extended the program three times since.

“If I go to Haiti, many schools, many properties have been destroyed,” Marleine Bastien’s father told Local 10 News.

Bastien’s father is a nurse at Jackson Memorial Hospital. He has been in the U.S.  for 18 years and has two U.S.-born children in school.

“I hope they help my parents and they keep me here,” Bastien said before hearing that the TPS program had been extended.

The TPS extension for Haitians is one of the rare issues that Florida lawmakers across party lines have urged the president and Department of Homeland Security to act upon, for humanitarian reasons and economic reasons, in a state where immigrants are a critical part of the workforce.

“While this news will give the tens of thousands of Haitians anxiously waiting to learn the program’s fate some measure of relief, this is in fact a cup half full situation,” Wilson said. “The reality is that in six months Haiti will still be in no position to absorb and aid 58,000 unemployed people.

“It will still be recovering from the 2010 earthquake and the subsequent cholera epidemic imported by U.N. peacekeepers that has killed 10,000. And it will still be struggling to rebuild the extensive damage its infrastructure incurred after Hurricane Matthew struck the island-nation last October.”

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Owner of towing business shot during robbery in southwest Miami-Dade

The owner of a southwest Miami-Dade County tow truck business was shot Monday morning during a robbery.

Silvio Alvarez, 55, was opening the gate to his business, S.A.O. Towing Services, Inc., when he was confronted by a gunman who was waiting inside, Miami-Dade police Detective Jennifer Capote said.

The gunman demanded money and a gold chain from Alvarez, and a struggle ensued, Capote said.

The victim was shot in the arm and then complied with the gunman, who fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of money and a gold chain.

Alvarez was taken to Kendall Regional Medical Center to be treated for his gunshot wound and later returned to the business, wearing his hospital gown. An ambulance arrived about an hour later to take him back to the hospital.

“I’m really angry. I’m really upset,” employee Natalie Robinson said. “I don’t know why they would shoot him. I don’t understand what they would try to get out of a 55-year-old man.”

Capote said the gunman was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and had a stocking covering his face.

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Elon Musk says Tesla can’t yet launch in India

It looks like Tesla won’t be coming to India anytime soon.

CEO Elon Musk suggested on Monday that plans to begin selling cars in India as soon as this summer have been delayed.

“Maybe I’m misinformed, but I was told that 30% of parts must be locally sourced and the supply doesn’t yet exist in India to support that,” Musk tweeted in reply to a question about whether Tesla would launch in India this year or next.

The billionaire entrepreneur didn’t go into detail, but Musk’s response suggests the company is no longer targeting a summer launch, a possibility he suggested in February.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

India has traditionally pushed foreign firms to make their products in the country, or source a high percentage from local markets.

Last year, the government changed the rules in an attempt to make the country more attractive to foreign retailers.

Single-brand retailers were given additional time to meet a requirement that 30% of merchandise be sourced locally.

Many foreign firms still find the relaxed regulations too onerous.

There are other potential hurdles for Tesla to overcome. If its cars were imported from abroad, they would likely be subject to hefty import duties.

India’s crowded roads and unreliable electricity grid are also not well suited to Tesla’s sleek battery-powered cars.

Musk has had his eye on the market of 1.3 billion potential buyers for some time, even including India in the list of countries where Tesla’s new Model 3 was available for pre-order.

In another tweet in March last year, Musk said he wanted to build a network of superchargers — the roadside stations that replenish Tesla batteries — across India.

If Tesla does make it to India, its electric cars could help make a big dent in the country’s notorious air pollution.

The experience of another Silicon Valley firm could be instructive, however.

Apple’s efforts to set up retail stores in the South Asian nation have so far been stymied by the rules on local production.

After prolonged negotiations with the Indian government — and a visit by CEO Tim Cook last year — the company finally decided to start making iPhones at a plant in Bangalore run by Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron.

Last week, Apple confirmed that it would soon start selling those iPhones in India. Retail stores could be next.

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Trump makes historic visit to Western Wall

President Donald Trump on Monday became the first sitting US president to visit the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites in Judaism.

Trump, wearing a yarmulke, placed his right hand on the wall and swayed slightly back and forth with his eyes closed. He was flanked by his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who is Jewish, and Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich.

He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a white folded up note, and placed it into a crack in the wall.

Despite requests from Israeli officials, Trump visited the Western Wall without any Israeli government officials by his side.

The United States does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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AP Source says Flynn will invoke Fifth Amendment

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn will invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination on Monday as he notifies the Senate Intelligence committee that he will not comply with a subpoena seeking documents.

That’s according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private interactions between Flynn and the committee.

Flynn’s decision comes less than two weeks after the committee issued a subpoena for Flynn’s documents as part of the panel’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

Legal experts have said Flynn was unlikely to turn over the personal documents without immunity because he would be waiving some of his constitutional protections by doing so. Flynn has previously sought immunity from “unfair prosecution” to cooperate with the committee.

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