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Today, over 300 national, state, and local immigrant, religious, labor, and civil rights organizations sent a letter to Kristjen Nielsen, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), asking her to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Guatemala in light of recent environmental disasters. TPS provides the ability to work and protection from deportation for foreign nationals who cannot be safely returned to their home countries due to extraordinary and temporary conditions, such as an environmental disaster.
Read the full letter text here.
Jill Bussey, Director of Advocacy at CLINIC, responded: “Our hearts are with our brothers and sisters in Guatemala who face an unprecedented environmental disaster that continues to decimate communities, ravage infrastructure, and affect over 1.7 million people. It is fundamentally unsafe to return Guatemalans during this time and crisis and doing so would be a violation of international and humanitarian norms. Congress provided a tool for these types of situations: Temporary Protected Status. The Secretary should follow the law and honor Guatemalan government’s request for TPS designation.”
On June 3, 2018, Volcán de Fuego, a volcano located in southern Guatemala, unexpectedly erupted and wrought devastation to the surrounding areas as boiling ash, rocks, and pyroclastic flow spewed from the volcano. As of July 23, there have been over 100 casualties; over 300 people remain missing; nearly 13,000 people have been evacuated; and the eruption affected over 1.7 million people.
TPS for Guatemala would protect approximately half a million Guatemalan nationals in the United States who are at risk of being deported back to life threatening conditions. The Trump Administration recently extended TPS for Syriaand Yemen because, like Guatemala, both countries are experiencing dangerous conditions that make it unsafe to return those country’s nationals.