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“Protecting TPS Holders Is About Protecting American Families”: Lawmakers And Advocates Urge Biden Admin To Expand TPS For Nations Including El Salvador and Honduras

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Several House Democratic leaders spoke at a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. on Thursday to urge the Biden administration to expand temporary protections for immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. 

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) allows immigrants to live and work legally in the U.S. when they cannot safely return to their home countries. Many TPS holders have lived and worked in the U.S. for years. But without this critical relief, families could be forced to make a grueling decision, Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) members said.

“Let’s face the grim reality: without a TPS extension, thousands of families will be forced to contemplate the impossible choice: either returning to a country that is really foreign to them … or remain undocumented in the US,” said Illinois Rep. Chuy Garcia. “And for those with U.S. citizen children, the decision becomes even more agonizing.” 

Lawmakers say it is also critical that the Biden administration expand this immigration relief. While an extension of TPS would continue protections for current holders who have already lived here for as long as 20 years, a redesignation would include immigrants who’ve arrived since that time but haven’t been eligible to apply. Nations like El Salvador and Honduras continue to experience civil unrest and climate-related conditions that make it too dangerous for these immigrants to return.

“Absent broader Congressional action, redesignating TPS for these nations could be the single most consequential thing the Biden administration does on immigration,” Rep. Joaquin Castro said during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing this week. While House Democrats and a small number of House Republicans passed the Dream and Promise Act in 2019 and again in 2021, Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy has pledged to block humane immigration legislation and allow extremist members like Marjorie Taylor Green to hold the gavel.

“Protecting TPS holders is about protecting American families from being torn apart because they lived in mixed households,” CHC chair Nanette Barragán continued in remarks Thursday. 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. Lawmakers said that with the stroke of a pen, President Biden can provide relief to families with deep roots in this nation.

Lawmakers further noted that TPS holders are integral contributors to our economy. “TPS holders and their households contribute $2.3 billion dollars — $2.3 billion dollars — in federal taxes, and $1.3 billion in state and local taxes annually,” Rep. Barragán continued. “They hold more than $10.1 billion in spending power. Amidst all the squabble of the debt ceiling and America’s spending habits, why would we punish those who only wish to feel safe in our country and contribute to our economy?” Redesignating TPS would be a further boon to our economy in addition to the right thing to do.

“We stand here today asking this administration to not only do what makes economic sense, but what makes moral sense,” she said.

June 22 is set to be a key date for 300,000 TPS families all over the nation. That’s the date that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is set for a hearing in the ongoing Ramos v. Nielsen case. This is the case that stemmed from the Trump administration’s racist attempts to end TPS for six nations (read more in our updated TPS 101 blog here). But as families await that court date, the Biden administration also has every legal authority to extend and redesignate these nations for TPS.

Rep. Lou Correa said Thursday that “TPS is not only about those that are fleeing violence and challenges, but it’s also about America. These people come to America to enrich our country at a time when we have a 3.6% record-low unemployment rate. They come to work hard. These are honest people also here to be part of the American Dream.”