One year after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, killing over 230,000 people and leaving over 1 million homeless, local politicians are working to help those who fled to New York in the days after the disaster.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Council member Jumaane Williams of Brooklyn sent a letter to President Obama last month encouraging him to extend the Temporary Protective Status for Haitians living in New York.
The Department of Homeland Security and the federal government generally grants TPS to immigrants stranded in the United States as a result of war, famine, or some other disaster in their home country.
The TPS status was granted to over 60,000 Haitians nationwide, according to a statistic from the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services. But some experts believe that there are close to 100,000 eligible for the status living in the United States who have not come forward.
New York City has the second largest number of Haitian immigrants, second only to Miami, and council member Williams believes many living in New York, especially in his Brooklyn district, are afraid to come forward to apply.
"There's a mistrust of government in general, partly from what they experienced on Haiti," he said, adding that he's spoken to many people who feel it's a "trick" to "round up Haitians and deport them back."
Williams is confident that President Obama will extend the program, although he was uncertain for how long.
The deadline to apply for the status is January 18th. For those already living with the TPS status, the deadline to extend their stay is July 21st.
For now, Williams continues to ask those in his district and around the city to encourage Haitians to apply for the TPS, while keeping the county on the agenda.
"We're trying to keep awareness going," he said. "It's disappointing the country looks the way it does a year."