The U.S. government expanded a program on Monday that permits some Haitian immigrants to live and work there without worrying about being deported, citing the worsening humanitarian crisis in the impoverished Caribbean country, which has recently been hit by a rash of violent outbursts.

The Temporary Protected Status (TPS) application deadline will be pushed up by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), allowing tens of thousands more Haitians to apply. Prior to the new designation, only Haitians who entered the country before July 29, 2021, were qualified for TPS; however, those who entered the country as of November 6, this year, are now able to apply.

Additionally, DHS stated on Monday that the United States would postpone the expiration of the Haiti TPS program from February 4, 2023, to August 3, 2024. Officials emphasized that Haitians who were considering entering the country illegally should not do so because they would not be eligible for the program and risk being deported.

TPS is a designation made by federal officials to immigrants from nations experiencing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or other humanitarian emergencies. TPS was established by Congress as part of the Immigration Act of 1990. The program doesn’t grant participants ongoing legal standing.

Haiti, the most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere, has long suffered from suffocating poverty, political unrest, gang violence, and devasting natural disasters, including an earthquake in 2010 that claimed tens of thousands of lives.

But due to escalating violence between gangs and the government’s struggle to keep some semblance of order after President Jovenel Mose’s assassination in 2021, Haiti’s already dire situation has only gotten worse over the past year. The prime minister of the nation requested in October that a “specialized armed force” be sent from abroad to put an end to the commotion.

In a statement released on Monday, DHS claimed that the “prolonged political crisis” in Haiti, gang violence, a lack of fuel, food, and water, and an increase in cholera cases were all reasons for expanding the TPS program for Haitians.

According to DHS data, there are currently 101,000 Haitians residing in the United States who are part of the TPS program. Additionally, the government is looking over 53,000 pending Haitian TPS applications. According to the DHS data, another 110,000 Haitians are anticipated to be eligible for TPS as a result of the program’s new cutoff date.

In the spring of 2021, the Biden administration established the first TPS designation for Haitians, arguing that the country’s dire economic situation, security issues, and violations of human rights made it too risky to send migrants there.

Progressives have previously criticized the Biden administration for its treatment of Haitian migrants. The sudden arrival of thousands of Haitians in the small Texas town of Del Rio in the fall of 2021 caught U.S. border officials off guard and resulted in the establishment of an impromptu migrant camp under a bridge.

A huge uproar was caused by news footage that showed mounted border agents ruthlessly herding Haitian migrants, with some of the agents seen swinging split reins, a type of rope used by horse riders. After a government investigation, it was discovered that the agents had dispersed Haitian migrants who were attempting to bring food to their families by using “unnecessary” force. But no proof that mounted agents struck anyone with their reins was discovered during the investigation.

In response to the events in Del Rio, the United States began deporting thousands of Haitians. The majority of Haitians who have crossed the border into the United States since the beginning of the year have been permitted entry at authorized ports of entry, where the Biden administration has been granting humanitarian exceptions to Title 42, a public health order that permits the United States to deport specific migrants.

The United States has established TPS programs for an unprecedented number of immigrants and nations under President Biden. TPS is currently available to citizens of a select group of 16 nations, including immigrants from Afghanistan, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Ukraine, and Venezuela, all of whom were granted eligibility under Mr. Biden.

The TPS policy of the Biden administration contrasts sharply with that of the Trump administration, which attempted to revoke the designations for a number of nations but saw its efforts rejected by a federal court. The TPS authority, according to the Trump administration, was misused and improperly extended despite changing national circumstances.