When U.S. officials granted temporary protected status to Haitians in the United States days after the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, they expected as many as 200,000 applications. But nearly three months later, federal officials say 42,942 Haitians have filed for TPS.
So far, the number of filings more closely matches the numbers initially predicted by local immigrant rights activists. They said in late January that they expected about 30,000 undocumented Haitians to apply for TPS.
A few days ago, a federal immigration official conceded that the original estimate may have been excessive, citing subsequent consultations with immigration advocates and experts. The official from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said the new official estimate is between 70,000 and 100,000.
"We had this initial burst of activity and interest and that has slowed down," said Randolph McGrorty, executive director of the Catholic Legal Services.
McGrorty and other South Florida immigration attorneys -- longtime champions for TPS, well before the quake -- say they anticipate a "surge" as the July 20 deadline nears. They attribute the drop to a $470 application fee, a community fear of being "trapped" by federal authorities and a complicated application process.
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