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Local Attorneys Help Haitians Get Protected Status

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Immigration Attorney Donald Mooers is helping local Haitians get Temporary Protected Status.
Rebecca Sheir
Immigration Attorney Donald Mooers is helping local Haitians get Temporary Protected Status.

By Rebecca Sheir

A new program is allowing qualified Haitian immigrants to stay in the United States and work, rather than return to their quake-ravaged country. More than 100 attorneys in the D.C. area are volunteering to help local Haitians apply and avoid being scammed.

Its called Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. Don Mooers, an immigration lawyer in Bethesda, Maryland, says its like being in a cocoon.

"The U.S. government says, 'we are not going to move to deport you. You are eligible to work. But its not on a permanent basis,'"says Mooers.

After 18 months, the U.S. government will look at conditions in Haiti and decide whether to extend TPS, like it has for immigrants from Central American countries devastated by hurricanes.

"So they're in a cocoon until the housing stock is vastly improved, the roads, electricity, gas," he says. "And that's gonna take some time."

The deadline to apply is July. But Mooers says some people would have Haitians believe otherwise.

There are people who don't practice law, saying, look, if you give us money, Ive got this buddy, I know somebody, and ya know, they say July, but your only chance is gonna be if you get it in right now,' he says.

Mooers says it isn't clear how many of the regions 20,000 Haitians are eligible for TPS. But he suspects he and his fellow immigration lawyers will be pulling some all-nighters, to make sure everyone who is eligible gets served.

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