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Haitians In U.S. File for Temporary Protective Status


It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep.


There are about three months left to apply. Let's hear now from a New Yorker named Ruth Pierre who was among those eager to get temporary protected status, or TPS. We first met her when she was filling out her application.

RUTH PIERRE: It's very important for me to get this, to be able to work and contribute in the community.

MONTAGNE: Ruth Pierre's application was recently approved. As she began her search for work, Marianne McCune of member station WNYC tagged along.

MARIANNE MCCUNE: Almost every day of the week now, Ruth Pierre walks about 40 minutes from her home to a city-funded job center in Queens.

PIERRE: Yeah, it's a good walk.

MCCUNE: Unidentified Man #2: Yeah.

MCCUNE: Pierre wants to become a nursing assistant but can't afford to take the classes. And she's here today to find out about city grants to get certified.


MCCUNE: The phone in her jam-packed bag belongs to the storefront church she lives above.

PIERRE: (Foreign language spoken)

MCCUNE: In exchange for her and her son's room, she helps the pastor, including answering his phone.

PIERRE: (Foreign language spoken)

MCCUNE: Across the country, more than 47,000 Haitians have applied for TPS. Immigration officials now estimate some 70 to 100 thousand are eligible, but originally that guess was higher - one to 200,000. And some advocates are disappointed more are not applying.

INSKEEP: nope.

JOCELYNE MAYAS: They do not have the money, that's number one.

MCCUNE: The application fee is $470 for adults, and it's not easy to get a fee waiver.

TPS: People are afraid they'll be deported. TPS does expire after 18 months, though it's likely to be renewed repeatedly. Still, Mayas says rumors fly.

MAYAS: Too many people who don't know anything about anything say too much about what they don't know.

MCCUNE: Alphonso David of the New York Attorney General's Office says one woman paid a company several thousand dollars to submit her application.

ALPHONSO DAVID: She recently received notification from the federal government that the application was rejected because they failed to complete the paperwork properly. And they have refused to provide her with a refund.

MCCUNE: Unidentified Man #3: It's Ruth Pierre, you said?

PIERRE: Yes, uh-huh.

MCCUNE: Ms. Pierre says the opportunity to become legal, even if just for 18 months, has made her son work harder in high school.

PIERRE: It's hard. He didn't see where he's going to go. What is the use for it?

MCCUNE: Now he can see he's going somewhere, she says. And she can see she's going somewhere too. While waiting at the job center for a resume workshop, she carefully unfolds a poster-size employee of the month certificate from years ago, when she worked illegally in Florida as a nursing assistant. It describes how thoroughly her patients appreciated her work.

PIERRE: At the end of the day, when they say thank you, I say it went right to my heart. I'll give anything for that feeling, uh-huh.

MCCUNE: For NPR News, I'm Marianne McCune in New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

United States & World Morning Edition
Marianne McCune
Marianne McCune is a reporter and producer for Embedded: Buffalo Extreme who has more than two decades of experience making award-winning audio stories. She has produced narrative podcast series for New York Magazine (Cover Story), helped start, produce and edit long-form narrative shows for NPR and public radio affiliates (Rough Translation; United States of Anxiety, Season Four), reported locally and internationally (NPR News, NPR's Planet Money and WNYC News) and produced groundbreaking narrative audio tours (SF MOMA, Detour). She is also the founder of Radio Rookies, a narrative youth radio series, that is still thriving at WNYC.