The Trump administration has removed Haiti from a list of countries whose citizens are allowed to apply for low-skill work in the U.S. through seasonal or temporary visas.
The Department of Homeland Security gave notice this week that it plans to bar folks from Haiti — which the president referred to as a “sh-thole” country last week — from applying for H–2A and H–2B visas, according to NBC News. Both allow business to bring in workers from other nations, however, the H-2A is mainly for farm work while the H-2B is for non–agricultural seasonal work.
In a notice announcing eligible countries posted online Wednesday, Jan. 17, DHS said that Haitian nationals applying for the visas “present extremely high rates of refusal,” and that those who’ve already been issued H-2A and H-2B visas have “… historically demonstrated high levels of fraud and abuse.” It went on to claim Haitians have a history of “overstaying the terms of their H-2 admission,” as well.
“Haiti has shown no improvement in these areas,” the notice read. “And the Secretary of Homeland Security has determined that … Haiti’s inclusion on the 2018 H–2A and H–2B lists is no longer in the U.S. interest.”
Belize and Samoa were also among the nations removed from the DHS visa eligibility list.
Only a few dozen Haitians use the H-2A and H-2B visas each year, DHS data showed. The island nation was added to the list of countries whose citizens are allowed to apply for the visas in 2010 after a powerful 7.0 magnitude earthquake destroyed the country, according to The Hill. The Trump administration announced plans to end temporary protected status for the thousands who fled after the earthquake back in November, however.
This latest move by the president and the DHS has advocates worried that the U.S. has just cut a vital lifeline for struggling Haitian residents seeking opportunity to work legally in the states
“They’re just cutting off the most economically beneficial visa for the Haitian people,” Sarah Williamson, founder of PTP Consulting, told Reuters. The Virginia-based consulting firm ran a pilot program to bring Haitians to the United States on the visas, the news service reported.
“Even though not many people have been able to avail themselves of it, it’s been hugely transformational for those who have participated,” Williamson added.
This year, DHS designating 83 nations as eligible for the H-2A and 82 eligible for the H-2B.