In-Depth 3-Part Series Exposes Uncertainty Facing TPS Holders, the Litigation to Stop Terminations, and Countries at Risk
In an artfully written new series of articles for USA Today, Alan Gomez highlights the heart-wrenching decisions Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders are facing after the administration’s termination of TPS for Sudan, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, and Nepal.
If the more than 300,000 TPS holders are forcibly deported, they will return to countries in the midst of turmoil and violence. Further, their more than 270,000 U.S. citizen children could be orphaned or forced to return to the same dangerous conditions. With litigation in the Ramos v. Nielsen lawsuit against Trump pending, Congress must use the time granted to create a permanent legislative solution for TPS holders and their families now.
Below are some of their stories:
Ronyde Christina Ponthieux, an 11-year-old U.S. citizen who lives in this South Florida suburb, spends most days alternating between two agonizing thoughts.
Some days, she ponders the possibility of her parents being forced to move back to their native Haiti and bringing her with them to a country she’s never even visited.
“Just the thought of everything that’s been going on – the earthquakes, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Matthew, the cholera outbreak – it’s scary. I speak French, I don’t speak Creole,” she said in perfect English. “It would be hard to adapt to the environment.”
Other days, she feels frightened her parents might have to return to Haiti and leave her behind. “I would be living with a different family. I could even be in the (foster care) system. It blows my mind.”
Ponthieux’s parents wish their piano-playing sixth-grader wouldn’t have to contemplate such thoughts, but that’s the reality facing hundreds of thousands of families, all legal residents, that are now being ordered by the Trump administration to go back home.
… Elba Concepcion Castillo Zepeda, a Nicaraguan grandmother who has lived and worked in the U.S. under TPS for nearly 20 years, agreed, saying she’s terrified of being forced back to the Central American nation.
Castillo originally entered the U.S. on a tourist visa after receiving death threats because of her efforts to help the Contras, who were fighting to overthrow the socialist Sandinista regime. She fed the rebels, tended to them when they were injured, and even helped bury some Contra fighters in her tiny hometown of Susucayan. She said government-aligned forces responded by throwing bricks at her home, calling her out by name on local radio stations, and screaming that her body would be found in the street “with my mouth full of ants.”
… She’s tried, and failed, to secure political asylum. The man she cares for has tried, and failed, to get her a work visa. And now with Nicaragua’s TPS expiring Jan. 5, Castillo is running out of time.
“What would I do there? At my age, there will be no jobs,” said Castillo, 71, who lives with her daughter and two U.S. citizen grandchildren. “My life there is going to be dangerous. Anybody can kill me for not accepting the injustices of the government.”
Mazin Ahmed has even less time to make his decision.
The 20-year-old is studying human biology and biochemistry at the University of Southern Maine, the start of what he hopes will be a career as a pediatrician. But Ahmed, his mother, and his two siblings all have TPS and may be forced to return to Sudan before their Nov. 2 deadline.
Ahmed, who hasn’t lived in Sudan since he was a baby, said his mother is “definitely nervous” about the decision they’ll have to make in the coming weeks. But rather than focus on the horrible decision they’ll have to make, Ahmed said his family has chosen to put their energy toward finding a solution.
Ahmed has joined other TPS recipients to lobby Congress to pass a law to protect them. Other groups have been pursuing the legal route, filing lawsuits against the administration to preserve the program.