Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has made immigration enforcement a core part of his pitch in his run for governor, is criticizing his ally Donald Trump, charging that the White House failed a “big test” on immigration by moving too slowly to end special deportation protections for nearly 60,000 Haitians.
Kobach, who writes for Breitbart News, told the hard-right outlet that a decision to give Haitian nationals 18 months to remain in the United States despite terminating their protected status, known as Temporary Protected Status, undermined the Trump administration’s immigration principles.
Extension of the protected status for Haitians “sends a bad signal that the Trump administration may not really be as interested in enforcing the law as first thought,” Kobach said. “I think its really important now that White House reassure the country that they will … not follow executive amnesties.”
Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke announced Monday that the administration was revoking the status for tens of thousands of Haitians, most of whom live in Miami. But DHS also said it was giving the Haitians 18 months to make arrangements to return to their homeland.
A Trump administration official said the delay also provides time for Congress to seek another legal avenue for Haitians nationals to remain.
“Only Congress can take action to reform the (Temporary Protected Status) program or address the concerns voiced by many that these individuals should have a future in the United States,” a senior administration official said.
The United States granted Temporary Protected Status to Haitian nationals living in the United States after a 2000 earthquake that left more than 300,000 dead, 1.5 million homeless and an equal number injured. While the country continues to struggle with extreme poverty, the administration said that conditions for which the protected status was granted have largely been resolved.
Proponents of Temporary Protected Status for people from Central America and Haiti argue that ending the designation for those countries is counterproductive and could also spur more illegal immigration.
“I travelled to #Haiti after the earthquake in 2010 and after hurricane Matthew in 2016. So I can personally attest that #Haiti is not prepared to take back nearly 60,000 #TPS recipients under these difficult and harsh conditions,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican, wrote in a tweet Monday night.
Kobach was an early supporter of Trump’s candidacy and advised him on immigration policy throughout the campaign. He was named vice chair of a presidential commission tasked with researching voter fraud in May, and the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., is joining Kobach at a fundraiser in Overland Park next week, the Kansas City Star reported.
Still, this is not the first time that Kobach has criticized the administration’s handling of Temporary Protected Status. Earlier this month, Kobach charged that the temporary protections are being abused.
“It is an absurd abuse of the law to continue extending the Honduran illegal aliens’ stay in the United States when an entire generation of Hondurans has been born since the hurricane,” Kobach wrote in a Breitbart column.