tags: , , , Blog

Local Leaders and U.S. Citizen Kids Among Voices Continuing To Urge Biden Administration To Act On TPS Relief

Share This:

The calls for the Biden administration to protect immigrant communities already in the U.S. through Temporary Protected Status (TPS) continue, including an immigrant worker-led rally at the White House, a video to President Biden from the children and grandchildren of essential workers, and a forceful op-ed from the speaker of the New York City Council and the executive director of the New York Immigrant Coalition.

In Washington, D.C. on Friday, CASA said that immigrant essential workers traveled from states including California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia to urge the Biden administration to use its existing authority under law to designate TPS for Guatemala, and redesignate it for Nicaragua, El Salvador, Nepal and Honduras. These lifesaving designations and redesignations would both protect immigrants from being sent back to dangerous conditions, and allow them to legally work and fully contribute to our economy.

“For me, a TPS designation would be a great opportunity – and just – for me and my family, after many years of exploitation,” CASA member Grisela Velasquez said in front of the White House. “That’s why I’m here, asking President Biden to do the right thing,” she continued. SEIU, Alianza Americas, CARECEN SF, CARECEN DC, Make the Road New York, SEIU 32BJ, the Latin America Working Group, and America’s Voice joined CASA in rallying for protections. The AV team captured the event in full here.

In another powerful moment, rallygoers honored the contributions of immigrant essential workers, and placed cleaning products, hardhats, and other work-related items on an altar. It’s estimated that more than 130,000 TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti worked as essential workers during the novel coronavirus pandemic:

The children and grandchildren of immigrant essential workers made a personal plea to President Biden in a video released by SEIU and iAmerica. “The thought of not having my mother with me would break my heart, because of the bond I have with her,” one child said in the video. “If my mom had to leave me and my little brother, we wouldn’t have parents to guide us to our future,” said another child.

TPS would help keep families together, because roughly 280,000 U.S. citizen minors live with at least one TPS-holding family member, according to 2019 data from the Center for American Progress. Some Haitian, Honduran and Salvadoran beneficiaries have lived here for more than two decades, meaning many have families and deep roots here in America, with children and grandchildren born and raised in the U.S.

In New York City, the push for TPS designations has local support from City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and New York Immigration Coalition Executive Director Murad Awawdeh, who penned an op-ed urging the Biden administration to use its authority to designate, redesignate, and renew TPS for Venezuela, Haiti, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mali, Mauritania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Sudan, Senegal, and Nepal. They write that designations and redesignations would allow migrants to support themselves, in turn helping businesses that are facing critical worker shortages.

“Economic mobility is tied to social prosperity, and it is in our best interest to expand opportunities for people so that they can lead safe, dignified, and independent lives,” the amNewYork op-ed said. “This new migration can be a boon to our workforce, especially given the widespread labor shortages affecting industries throughout our country. For New York City, TPS designation would help alleviate our overburdened shelter and social service systems, delivering necessary relief to our social infrastructure.”

In recent weeks, dozens of mayors and county executives have also urged the Biden administration to act on TPS. While certain bad actors have used recent migrant arrivals to advance their own political agendas, Speaker Adams and Awawdeh write that history shows that immigrants have always been a boon to New York City. 

“When we last faced a fiscal crisis and an exodus of New Yorkers, it was immigrants who played a key role in growing our population and fueling the city’s economy,” Speaker Adams and Awawdeh continued. “We are in a similar situation today and must leverage this advantage.” And, the idea that this is anything unprecedented is disputed by historians, as Gothamist reported:

Interviews with scholars and a Gothamist review of immigration data dating from the 19th century to the present shows that the number of migrants entering the city is not unusual.

Ellis Island processed 100,000 immigrants in just a single month in April 1907, when much of the legal framework around modern immigration did not exist.

Just a year before – in April 1906 – nearly 45,000 migrants passed through Ellis Island in one week.

Back then, neighborhoods like the Lower East Side were overburdened by an influx of migrants due to a lack of space, with more than 700 people per acre, according to the Library of Congress. Today, census data shows the neighborhood has about 136 people per acre.

According to Gothamist, historian Alan Kraut “said the political fight surrounding the current influx of migrants is different from generations past. Some of the migrants have arrived at the Port Authority aboard buses from the southern border sent by Republican governors – pawns in a larger debate about immigration policies.”