City Council backs Haitians here on post-earthquake visas

The Boston City Council voted unanimously today to tell the federal government to cut the nonsense and let Haitians here on "temporary protected status" visas stay here, because the awful conditions in their homeland that brought them here persist.

The visas expire in June and Haitian advocates worry the Trump Administration will not provide another 18-month extension as has been done in the past.

Council President Michelle Wu (at large) said the conditions that prevent the Haitians from returning to Haiti haven't changed - their country has yet to recover from the earthquake, suffered more damage during a hurricane last year and is now in the midst of a drought and epidemics of mosquito-borne zika and chikungunya.

In addition, she and co-sponsor Tim McCarthy (Hyde Park, Mattapan, Roslindale) said, the roughly 4,000 Haitians in the Boston area who have these visas are hard working, pay more than $40 million a year in taxes - including for services they can't use, such as social security - and help Haiti recover through payments sent back home.

"What people have to understand is that the Haitian TPS holders are hard workers," McCarthy, whose district has a large Haitian-American and Haitian population, said.

Wu said she found it absurd that Trump officials have started asking questions ahead of a May 23 deadline for extending the visa on such things as how many of the Haitians receive public benefits such as Medicaid, since they are not eligible for it to begin with.

"Let's stand up for neighbors, our loved ones, our city," Wu said.

Councilor Josh Zakim (Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Fenway, Mission Hill), who chairs the council's human-rights committee, urged Bostonians to resist Trump-administration efforts to divide neighbors.

Councilor Andrea Campbell (Dorchester/Mattapan) said Boston, which she said has always been a city of immigrants, should both send a message and take specific steps, such as ensuring that any Haitians potentially affected by whatever happens next week have access to legal services and advice on their rights.