Starting now, Haitians will no longer be eligible for certain temporary visas to work in the U.S.
The visa decision follows recent moves by Trump's DHS to end protections for Haitians, Salvadorans, and Nicaraguans in the federal government's Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program, which allows foreigners impacted by armed conflicts or natural disasters to legally live and work in the United States.
Sixty-five Haitians entered the United States on H-2A visas, given for agricultural work, in the 2016 fiscal year, and 54 Haitians were granted H-2A visas by the State Department between March and November 2017.
DHS, citing high levels of fraud, justified the move by claiming that Haiti's participation in the program "is no longer in the US interest". The island nation was added to the list of countries whose citizens are allowed to apply for the visas in 2010 after a powerful 7.0 magnitude quake destroyed the country, according to The Hill.
But, in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, Trump praised Haitians.
"I love the people. There's a tremendous warmth", Trump said. "And they're very hard-working people". "We saw it as an opportunity to help Haiti rebuild after the quake". The president also reportedly wondered why the USA didn't have more immigrants from predominantly white and economically stable countries like Norway.
President TrumpDonald John TrumpDems flip Wisconsin state Senate seat Sessions: "We should be like Canada" in how we take in immigrants GOP rep: "Sheet metal and garbage" everywhere in Haiti MORE was accused of racism by Democrats last week after comments he reportedly made about the country being a "shithole" during a meeting with lawmakers surfaced in The Washington Post.
Jon Hegeman, who operates a commercial greenhouse in Alabama, brought in eight Haitian H-2A workers in 2015 through the consultancy, and nine workers in 2016. Within a three-month period, they went through 300 people for eight positions, he said.
"These guys were awesome".
Michael Clemens, a senior fellow at the non-partisan Center for Global Development, told NBC News that hundreds of Haitians get visas to the United States through these seasonal and agricultural visas because it is the best option for them. "We had zero visa overstays". Other visas require more education or other skills, and Haitians often don't qualify for family-sponsored visas.