11/6/17 Decision deadline for 59,550 Hondurans and Nicaraguans: 13 DAYS
11/23/17 Decision deadline for 50,000 Haitians: 30 DAYS
01/08/18 Decision deadline for 195,000 Salvadorans: 76 DAYS
As country-specific deadlines rapidly approach, activists with the National TPS Alliance are organizing and uniting in full force to call on the Trump Administration to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the hundreds of thousands of immigrants living in the U.S. who are currently protected under the program.
Maria Peña in a piece for La Opinion sets the stage for the growing movement; full text follows:
A few steps from the White House, community activists urged President Donald Trump on Tuesday to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to more than 320,000 immigrants from nine countries, including Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua arguing that it is a “moral imperative.”
In front of a church near the White House, more than 20 activists including religious leaders and TPS beneficiaries shared messages supporting the extension of the immigration relief as part of an extensive campaign over the coming days that includes civic groups, religious and trade unions across the country.
Rev. Mary Swearingen, co-pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, said TPS has allowed thousands of immigrants, including many of their parishioners, to live freely from the fear of deportation and contribute to their communities, making it a “personal” and “moral” issue.
“I know that our promises as a country should not be temporary. I know our commitments to people should not be temporary,” said Swearingen.
Salvadoran activist Corina López, an activist and member of the Calvary Baptist Church, told the newspaper that the TPS extension would provide peace of mind to those who, like herself, fear a possible deportation.
“The situation in El Salvador is very difficult. It is a very small country and I believe that the thousands of people that are here would not have good working conditions” if they were deported, added Lopez, who obtained TPS status in 2001 under the Bush Administration after an earthquake hit her country the previous year.
In recent months, Salvadoran Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez has made several official visits to Washington talking to several White House and State Department advisors, as well as Congressional leaders and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) representatives on the urgency of renewing TPS and highlighting the contributions of Salvadoran “tepesianos” to the U.S. economy.
TPS is a migratory benefit the U.S. has granted undocumented immigrants since 1990 who cannot return to their countries of origin due to natural disasters, civil conflicts or other extraordinary circumstances.
Under the current statute, at least 60 days before TPS expires, DHS reviews conditions in the country in question to determine if its citizens were still eligible to maintain that benefit.
“As a common practice, we try to announce a decision through the Federal Register by then, as soon as possible,” the source added.
Last May, former National Security Secretary John Kelly extended TPS for Haitians for an additional six months until January, but indicated that DHS would make a final decision in November.
Who are the “Tepesianos”?
The Administration announced the elimination of TPS for Sudan as of November 2, 2018, while the decision on the rest of the nine countries is pending. At present, there are just over 320,000 TPS recipients, more than 90% from Haiti, El Salvador and Honduras. Specifically, the TPS protects roughly 195,000 immigrants from El Salvador, 57,000 from Honduras, 50,000 from Haiti, 8,950 from Nepal, 5,800 from Syria, and 2,250 from Nicaragua. The list is rounded out by 1,000 migrants from Yemen, 270 from Somalia, and about 75 to 200 from South Sudan, according to the Center for Migration Studies (CMS).
TPS beneficiaries are parents of more than 273,000 U.S.-born children; 87% speak English; 50% have their own homes; and 22% came to the U.S. before age 16, the Alliance group Americas, said. Further, more than 80% of them are employed in various sectors of the economy, mainly in construction, restaurants, gardening, child care, and retail sales, according to an analysis by the Center for Migration Studies (CMS).
According to USCIS, TPS for Honduras, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador expires between January and March 2018, implying DHS would have to make its first announcement no later than November 5, 2017.
Extensive support campaign
The pressure groups supporting TPS include civic, trade union and religious groups throughout the country, many of which have disseminated numerous studies on the economic benefits both for the U.S. economy and countries within the region.
Citing the Bible and the character of the United States as a country of immigrants, religious leaders emphasized the moral aspect of protecting foreigners. The USCCB’s Office for Migrants and Refugees today released a 14-page report, documenting the reasons why immigrants from Honduras and El Salvador deserve to have TPS extended.
The report was based on data from a delegation from the USCCB last August to Honduras and El Salvador headed by Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell. The delegation determined that although there have been improvements in the conditions of Honduras and El Salvador, neither country could currently absorb thousands of deportees. Therefore, the elimination of TPS would seriously affect regional security.
On the other hand, Miami-Dade County Commissioners in Florida last week approved a resolution to support another 18-month TPS extension for Haitians.
Tomorrow union leaders and immigrant advocates from California and other states will take their pro-TPS messages to Congress as part of a national campaign that includes the National Network of Day Laborers (NDLON), CARECEN, and various unions including AFL-CIO.
Meanwhile, the “National Alliance for TPS” will perform its own mobilization in Washington this weekend with a charity concert next Sunday headlined by Nicaraguan singer-songwriter Luis Enrique Mejía Godoy and Capitol Hill visits on Monday and Tuesday of next week.