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More Than 30 Mayors And County Executives Urge Biden Administration To Act On TPS Relief

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Nearly three dozen mayors and county executives from the Cities for Action coalition have added their voices to the call urging the Biden administration to designate or redesignate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 11 countries, writing in a letter that the designations will both protect immigrants already here from being returned to dangerous conditions, and fiscally benefit U.S. communities as a whole.

“As you know, these countries are facing severe political and security emergencies, exacerbating a variety of conditions previously wrought by natural disasters, extreme political unrest, armed conflicts, and other crises,” mayors and county executives from Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin write.

“These extraordinary circumstances have increased the number of immigrants escaping these life-threatening conditions and now living in our communities who need the vital temporary relief that TPS provides,” they continue.

For many years, administrations from both parties have used TPS to protect immigrants fleeing natural disasters, political instability, and humanitarian crises, allowing them to live and work legally in the U.S. when they cannot safely return to their home countries. The letter urges the Biden administration to redesignate and extend the eligibility period for TPS for Venezuela, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Cameroon, and Nepal, and designate TPS for Guatemala, Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritania, and Nigeria.

As the letter indicates, these designations are also hugely beneficial to geographical areas that have received these immigrants, because individuals will be able to both support themselves and infuse additional revenue into their communities and states. The advocacy group FWD.us has estimated that TPS holders and individuals eligible for this relief pump $22 billion in wages into the economy every year. Many TPS holders have lived here for decades and have U.S. citizen children. To uproot them would not only be inhumane, but disruptive to our nation at a critical time.

“TPS protections would add eligible workers to the workforce at a time of tight labor markets across the country and take pressure off the social safety net by allowing beneficiaries the ability to more fully provide for themselves and their families,” the letter said. “We also cannot forget that current TPS beneficiaries and other immigrants have worked to ensure access to essential services that keep the economy moving, including recently during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The issuance of work permits through a TPS designation would greatly help communities that have welcomed newer migrants but are facing some stresses to resources. The designations and redesignations would also benefit our nation’s vastly outdated immigration system by helping clear “the years-long asylum case backlog as individuals transition to TPS and those with open court cases close them faster,” a Cities for Action statement said. “In this way, TPS is an important tool toward reducing years-long wait times that some experts have argued has been a pull factor.”

TPS relief “is right in line with my vision for Pittsburgh, and for the United States of America, to be a safe and welcome place where everyone can live and thrive,” said Mayor Ed Gainey. “TPS offers safety for those who would otherwise face danger in their countries of origin and helping these individuals to feel welcome and able to thrive while they are here. This security allows them to contribute in so many vital ways to innovation and growth in the communities where they are living here in the United States.” 

Certain bad actors have used migrant arrivals to advance their own political agendas, but as America’s Voice Executive Director Vanessa Cárdenas said, “immigrants and asylum seekers don’t want handouts or special treatment – they want to work and support themselves.” There’s reportedly been some hesitance by the Biden administration to use its TPS authority out of fear of GOP attacks. But Greg Sargent recently wrote for The Plum Line column at the Washington Post. “If worry about GOP attacks is a motivator, it shouldn’t be.”

“Yes, we are facing a challenge brought to us by decades of Republican obstruction and the realities of global migration and climate change, but our approach shouldn’t be panic or division, but rather a solution oriented approach,” Cárdenas continued. “That means Congress needs to deliver on the supplemental funding request by the Biden administration to aid cities and states; and the Biden administration needs to expand the use of TPS and issue work permits as many business and labor leaders, and many other experts, advocates, and elected officials are calling for.”