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Immigrant Advocates, Salvadoran TPS Holder & Policy Experts Unpack What A Negative Decision on Protected Status Could Mean for 200K Salvadorans Protected Under Program

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01/08/18 DHS Decision Deadline for Salvadorans with TPS: 35 DAYS

A recording of today’s call is available here.

On a press call this afternoon, immigrant advocates, policy experts, and a Salvadoran TPS holder and member of UNITE HERE Local 11 laid out the importance of preserving protected status (TPS) for the 200,000 Salvadorans currently protected under the program.

Royce Murray, Policy Director, American Immigration Council, said:

In just 5 weeks, 200,000 Salvadorans who have lived in the United States for decades will learn their fate. Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is critical to protecting them from being deported to a country that has struggled with rampant gang violence and the highest homicide rate in the world. We need TPS for El Salvador to continue so that these hard-working, long-vetted families can remain a vital part of our communities.

Oscar Chacón, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Alianza Americas, said:

Alianza Americas led a delegation of government and civil society leaders to El Salvador last year and saw with our own eyes the escalating violence, impunity, and instability that causes tens of thousands to flee the country each year. These very conditions await some 200,000 people—our friends, neighbors, and co-workers—if TPS ends. We can all agree that jeopardizing these lives is out of line with American values. We call on DHS to extend TPS, and on Congress to build a permanent pathway to keep TPS holders out of harm’s way.

Isabel Barrera, UNITE HERE Local 11 Member and Salvadoran TPS Holder, said:

My family is here, my life is here. If TPS expires, both will be torn apart. This can’t happen. In February, I will have been here for 20 years. Like everyone with TPS, I have been paying taxes, turning my fingerprints in, and doing everything the law requires.  My son was born in this country; he is about to turn 18 and about to graduate from high school. I have to decide what to do with his dreams, if TPS were to end. Also, thanks to TPS, and because of the law allowing people to bring minors from Central America, I was able to bring my daughter from El Salvador here. I struggled a lot to bring her here, and if TPS were to end, her time over here would be cut short as well. I am a big part of the economy both here in the U.S. and in El Salvador by way of sending remittances back to El Salvador. I have many co-workers and friends in the hotel industry who are awaiting and in need of permanent status, so that we are not always waiting to see what will happen. As members of the community and as workers, we are asking for some type of permanent status for those of us with TPS.  I hope something will touch their hearts, and they will see we are good for this country and, ultimately, that we all need something better.

Rachel Gumpert, National Press Secretary, UNITE HERE, said:

If TPS is not renewed for Salvadoran recipients, 200,000 tax paying, hard-working immigrants will be criminalized overnight, going from legal workers with good union jobs to targets for deportation in the blink of an eye. UNITE HERE is proud to represent thousands of Salvadoran TPS holders employed in the hospitality industry, and can vouch firsthand for the devastating economic impact the loss of hundreds of thousands of long-time, dedicated workers will have on the private sector that relies on their work. These workers have deep roots in their communities, pay their taxes, receive no government benefits, and in many cases have American born children. They work union jobs with good wages, live meaningful lives, and are an integral part of many major cities in the country. Deporting these workers would be a death sentence for Salvadoran immigrants who would be forced back to one of the most volatile countries in Central America, and for the American economy in the hospitality and construction industries that rely on this workforce.

Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director, America’s Voice Education Fund, said:

The following statement is on behalf of America’s Voice Education fund: Kirstjen Nielsen’s confirmation as DHS Secretary is expected to move forward this week. Let us remember Nielsen had a rough ride on the Homeland Security committee, and for good reason.  According to multiple press reports, John Kelly — her mentor — improperly interfered on the decisions for Honduran and Nicaraguan TPS.  The idea that she will be independent from that kind of political interference doesn’t seem credible to us.  We have such a huge decision coming up on El Salvador that will literally be a life or death decision for many of the 200,000 Salvadorans living in the United States, and the fact that we are going to have a John Kelly mentee in charge of this decision is very concerning to us. We are calling on Senate Democrats to register their opposition to Nielsen’s confirmation as a means of insisting that TPS decisions be based on the statute and not on politics.