by Gabrielle Davis
ORLANDO — In the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated Haiti Jan. 12, the U.S. government extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitians already living in the United States.
In response, The Florida Bar Foundation has awarded grants totaling $297,000 to legal aid offices in Florida that have seen an influx of Haitians applying for TPS, which would allow them to live and work in the United States for 18 months from January 2010.
“The Foundation is pleased to be able to respond to the Haitian earthquake crisis by providing these funds to support legal aid programs assisting Haitians with protected status applications under the new federal program,” said Paul Doyle, director of the Foundation’s Legal Assistance for the Poor and Law Student Assistance grant programs. “Approximately 55 percent of the families in Haiti are totally dependent upon support from Haitians in the U.S. This will help continue such support.”
The Foundation estimates that the funds it has allocated will address only 30 to 40 percent of the need for legal assistance in Florida’s Haitian communities.
The grants are being made through the Foundation’s Legal Assistance for the Poor Grant Program to seven legal aid offices with sizable Haitian populations in their communities: Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, Gulfcoast Legal Services, Florida Equal Justice Center, Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, Legal Aid Service of Broward County, and the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center.