Miami Law's Health and Elder Law Clinic's highly successful efforts on behalf of Haitians seeking Temporary Protected Status (TPS) this summer have earned high praise and drawn the attention of national groups.
Of the roughly 150 TPS applications the Clinic filed, only 40 are still waiting for full TPS approval. The Clinic has also been busy working on responding to Requests for Evidence (RFE) issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and has a high approval rate with no rejections to date.
"Our high-quality TPS work and quick response to the crisis came to the attention of many national groups, including the director of USCIS," said Clinic Director, Professor JoNel Newman. "As a result, our Clinic has been included in on a set of high-level discussions about TPS policy and processing issues, as well as other immigration-related Haitian earthquake relief measures."
The Clinic has played an integral part in drafting a series of policy letters to Secretary Janet Napolitano of the Department of Homeland Security and Alejandro Mayorkas, Director of USCIS, urging an extension of the TPS deadline as well as extending TPS benefits or deferred action status to Haitian nationals who were not continuously residing in the United States prior to the January earthquake. Additionally, representatives from the Health and Elder Law Clinic met with legislative staff and aides of the Florida delegation, both in South Florida and on Capitol Hill.
Miami Law student Frederick Hawkins, who is doing an internship in the Pentagon Legal Department this summer in Washington, has also been "pounding the pavement," meeting regularly with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and South Florida Congressional delegation.
Miami Law's Health and Elder Law Clinic recently received the prestigious Clinical Legal Education Association's Award for Excellence in a Public Interest Case or Project for their work with the Haitian TPS process.
In a letter to School of Law Dean Patricia D. White, Mayorkas wrote: "I want to thank you and the University of Miami School of Law for your extraordinary volunteer efforts on behalf of Haitian nationals seeking temporary protected status. Those efforts, including outreach to train community leaders and advocates on the process of applying for temporary protected status, provided valuable assistance to a vulnerable community in need of humanitarian relief."
On Monday, Mayorkas announced the federal government had decided to extend by six months the deadline for Haitians who qualify to apply for TPS, giving them until January of 2011 to seek the status. He made the announcement during a visit to the USCIS Miami field office.