Haitians who fled the earthquake-ravaged nation last year will be eligible to apply for special immigration status that allows them to live and work legally in the United States for a fixed amount of time, US immigration officials announced today.
The move extending so-called temporary protected status to those who fled the disaster marks a major shift for federal officials, who had resisted granting it to thousands of Haitians, in part to discourage a life-threatening mass migration by sea.
Until now, only Haitians who were already in the United States before the quake had been eligible to apply for the special status, leaving those who arrived afterward with few options. Many ended up overstaying their visas and becoming homeless.
The announcement comes days after Haiti inaugurated a new president.
Under their new status, the Haitians who came after the quake will enjoy the protected status until Jan. 22, 2013. The government also gave the 18-month extension to Haitians who came to the US before the quake. It had been set to expire in July.
"Providing a temporary refuge for Haitian nationals who are currently in the United States and whose personal safety would be endangered by returning to Haiti is part of this administration's continuing efforts to support Haiti's recovery,'' Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said in a statement.
The estimated 10,000 people who had fled after the quake on visitor visas, which they overstayed because they had no jobs or homes to return to, ended up crowded into relatives' homes or homeless and living in motels, as the Globe reported in January.
About 48,000 Haitians, who had been living in the United States before the quake, obtained TPS afterward.
Haitian immigrants and advocates cheered the news with tears and hugs today. Most had spent the past year and four months in limbo, descending into poverty while the reconstruction stalled in their homeland, leaving them nothing to return to.
Nonprofit groups such as Catholic Charities assisted them with English classes and other aid. Yesterday, an official with the charity said the announcement would transform their lives.
"We are all ecstatic," said Marjean A. Perhot, director of refugee and immigration services of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Boston. "I ran down the hall I was so excited. We are so thrilled, so thankful. Today has made the lives of thousands of Haitians hundreds of times better."
In Brockton, where in January the Globe revealed that many Haitian families who fled the quake had ended up homeless and living in motels, Judeline Manigat hailed the news as a lifesaver for her husband and 6-year-old daughter, who arrived after the quake. With him unable to work, the couple ended up living in the Quality Inn in Brockton.
"Good! That's good," Manigat said. "I'm very happy."
Temporary protected status is a discretionary tool that the Homeland Security secretary uses in cases of emergencies to allow people from a nation torn by war or disaster to receive temporary safe haven in the United States until the US government deems that it is safe for them to return.
People must apply and pay fees in exchange for permission to live and work in the United States.
The earthquake ravaged Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010, destroying most government buildings and killing an estimated 230,000. Hundreds of thousands of people are still homeless, and a cholera outbreak there has killed more than 4,800 people.
The family of Delvonte Tisdale, whom authorities said hid in the wheel well of an airplane in North Carolina before falling from the sky over Milton, has hired a Florida law firm to pursue legal claims against those they hold responsible for his death, according to a press release issued by the firm today.
“The evidence in this case makes it quite clear which party is at fault, and the family has every intention of pursuing legal action of the highest order,” attorney Christopher Chestnut said in a statement released by a public relations firm.
He added that “we intend to seek justice for a child who, although culpable for making irresponsible and immature decisions representative of his age, should never have successfully gained access to that airplane. Had airport security been up to par, he would be alive and well with his family today.”
The massively injured body of the 16-year-old Tisdale was found in a quiet subdivision in Milton in November. Milton police initially suggested that Tisdale was murdered or the victim of some other kind of violence, but former Norfolk District Attorney William R. Keating said last month that Tisdale stowed away on a USAirways flight in Charlotte.FULL ENTRY
Pat Greenhouse / Globe Staff
With his face partially covered by a hospital jumper he wore to court, a Dorchester man today pleaded not guilty to numerous firearm charges, including illegal possession of a machine gun.
Marvin Veiga, 21, appeared in Dorchester Municipal Court still wearing the hospital clothing he was given when he was treated for a leg wound at Boston Medical Center. Veiga was shot by a Boston police officer as he allegedly pointed a fully loaded military-style assault rifle at police Friday night as officers chased him on foot.
Veiga and three other men who were riding in a Chrysler PT Cruiser were being pursued by police when the vehicle crashed on Freeport Street in Dorchester, police said. A loaded .40-caliber handgun, numerous rounds of ammunition, and four face masks were also found in the car, according to police.FULL ENTRY
Governor Deval Patrick said today he plans to travel a lot more, nationally and internationally, in his second term – venturing out of state for trade missions, policy research, and to promote his upcoming autobiography.
Patrick’s travel is certain to renew speculation about his aspirations for higher office and to draw criticism that his trips amount to junketeering.
But Patrick, in a 20 minute interview with the Globe, defended the travel as vital to the state’s economy.
“I know my counterparts [in other states] are doing it around the country and around the world,” he said, adding that Massachusetts has “very powerful things to sell.”
Veteran jurist Roderick L. Ireland was sworn in today as chief justice of the state's highest court, becoming the first black person ever to hold the office in the history of the court, which spans more than 300 years.
"This is the right man at the right time," said Governor Deval Patrick, who administered the oath of office to Ireland in before an ebullient crowd of hundreds at the John Adams Courthouse in Boston. "It gives me personal pride to appoint the first African-American as chief justice to the SJC."
Ireland thanked his family, especially his 93-year-old mother, Helen, who held the Bible as the took the oath. Ireland, who was an associate justice of the court for 13 years, also thanked everyone who worked in his office, from the cleaning crew to the court security officers to his law clerks.
He also thanked the pioneers who had paved the way for a black person to rise to such a high office. "Today is really not about me. It's about the collective efforts of many, many peep who have worked and died to make today possible. Hopefully, someday it will not matter what the race of a person is, but right now it seems to," he said.FULL ENTRY
Roderick L. Ireland will be sworn in Monday morning as the new chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court and will become the first black person to lead the state’s court system.
Governor Deval Patrick, who nominated Ireland to replace retired Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall, will administer the oath of office at 10 a.m., according to the SJC public information office.
Ireland, who is currently an associate justice of the SJC, grew up in Springfield. A childhood friend, Boston attorney Wayne Budd, will oversee the ceremony to be held at the John Adams Courthouse in Government Center.
Ireland, who has been on the SJC since 1997, lives in Milton.
The mother of Delvonte Tisdale will hold a memorial service for her son Friday – one week after Massachusetts authorities said the North Carolina teen died as the result of stowing away on a commercial jet, and that his body plummeted to the ground as it passed over Milton.
In a telephone interview from her home in Baltimore today, Jonette Washington said she remains perplexed by her son’s motivation. She also said the evidence collected by investigators seems to support their theory that her son died after boarding the left wheel well of a Boeing 737 at the Charlotte airport Nov. 15.
"When things first happened, my first instinct was it can’t be true," Washington said today. "He wouldn’t do anything like that. He has no reason to do anything like that. All he had to do was pick up the phone and say 'Mommy I’m ready to come home and I'd go get him.' "
Washington said Delvonte, along with two younger siblings, left Baltimore for North Carolina about 18 months ago so they could live with their father, Anthony Tisdale. They wanted to get to know their father after years of living with their mother, Washington said.FULL ENTRY
CANTON -- Delvonte Tisdale stowed away on a commercial jet and fell out of the aircraft as it neared Boston's Logan Airport last month, Norfolk District Attorney William R. Keating said today that evidence collected by his office suggests.
He called Tisdale death a tragedy for the teen’s family – and a worrisome breach of airport security at a time when travelers are subjected to body searches and forced to use full-body scanners before they can board.
“There is great concern that with all of our efforts for security, and the almost invasive type of efforts that are occurring right now, that something like this could happen,’’ said Keating, who will be sworn in as the new congressman from the 10th Congressional District next month.
He added, “it’s a terrible tragedy what happened to this young man, but if that was someone with a different motive… if that was a terrorist that could have been a bomb that was planted, undetected. This is very serious.’’
The last person to stowaway on a flight from a US airport was on April 14 1972, when a frozen body was found in the left wheel well of a flight from San Diego to New York City, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
A Revere police officer had no legal right to enter a motel room and seize a loaded handgun and marijuana even though a woman in the room had let the officer in, a divided Supreme Judicial Court ruled today in a decision written by Governor Deval Patrick's nominee for chief justice.
Writing for the majority in the 5-2 decision, Justice Roderick L. Ireland concluded that it was unreasonable for Officer Mark Desimone to believe that an unidentified woman who answered the door at the Ocean Lodge, possibly under the influence of drugs, had the authority to let him enter the room on August 2005.FULL ENTRY
Justice Roderick L. Ireland was described today as a "great role model'' for the young and as a fearless judge who has the strength of character to lead the state court system as the chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court.
The positive remarks about Ireland were made during his confirmation hearing before the Governor's Council at the State House. By noon, six people testified in support of Ireland's nomination. One person, whose name was not immediately available, has indicated an intention to testify against the 66-year-old jurist.
Ireland has been nominated by Governor Deval Patrick to succeed current Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall, who is stepping down to spend more time with her husband, former New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis.
Marshall told the Governor's Council today that they should confirm Ireland.
"If confirmed, in my judgment, Justice Ireland will be a great chief justice,'' said Marshall, who noted she has worked with Ireland on the SJC for the past 13 years. "Wisdom, generosity of spirit, compassion – he has these in abundance.''FULL ENTRY
On the beat
Columnist Shirley Leung says Boston mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh should focus on middle-class housing. Read more