Haitians In U.S. File for Temporary Protective Status
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
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.
(SOUNDBITE OF RINGING CELL PHONE)
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.
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.
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