WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — More than 7,000 Haitian migrants have been intercepted at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard this year.
These men, women and children are desperate for a better life, fleeing violence, poverty and a political crisis.
This week the Department of Homeland Security extended temporary protected status for Haitian nationals and is allowing more to apply.
Speaking to WPTV through a translator, Pierre Cadet said Haiti is hopeless and crippled in extreme poverty, increasing gang violence and political instability.
"Because of the insecurity, all the shootings and the stuff the government shut down, nobody can go anywhere," Pierre Cadet said.
At an immigration services center in West Palm Beach, Cadet applied for temporary protected status (TPS) for the first time.
"It's kind of an in-between, hybrid-type status, which is a work permit that allows them to stay," immigration attorney Richard Hujber said. "It's extended for years potentially, but it's not a green card either."
Under the extension, Hujber said Haitians living in the U.S. prior to Nov. 6 of this year can apply for TPS. Those whose status was set to expire in February can extend it until August 2024.
"It's a really dangerous situation in Haiti right now," Hujber said.
In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, members of Congress urged the administration to prioritize humanitarian relief and extended the temporary protected status that began 13 years ago after a devastating 7.0 earthquake rocked the country.
"They still live in tent cities. I mean, this is more than a decade later and the recovery process has been so challenging and difficult," Hujber said. "They have a lot of political instability, economic instability, a lot of crime and violence in the streets, gangs. I mean, the president was murdered for God sakes."
The letter highlighted 80% of Haitians in the U.S. are in the work force and contribute more than $2.6 billion to the economy every year. As Cadet builds his life here, he fears the temporary status of TPS.
"He would love to go back someday, but right now it's not safe for them to go back," Cadet's translator said.