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Forbes Exclusive: 200+ Advocacy Groups Urge Biden to Protect 2.2 Million from Deportation on “Day One of his Presidency”

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In a letter released exclusively to Forbes, more than 200 state and local groups across the country signed on to a letter urging Presidential candidate Vice President Joe Biden to enact Deferred Enforcement Departure (DED) on day one of his presidency and protect more than 2.2 million people from deportation. Chantal da Silva reports that should Biden win in November, the groups are urging him to commit to protection for those at risk of losing Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and becoming at risk for loss of job authorization or deportation.

DED is similar to TPS, but can be implemented by a president more easily than designating TPS. The USCIS website says of DED:

The president may authorize Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) in his discretion and as part of his constitutional power to conduct foreign relations. Individuals covered by DED are not subject to removal from the United States for a designated period of time. Individuals may also request employment authorization if it is provided as a benefit of DED.

The text of the letter sent to Vice President Biden can be found in the article excerpted below, which can be read in full here

“Joe Biden is being urged to promise roughly 2.2 million people at risk of future deportation protections to remain in the U.S. on “day one of his presidency” if he wins the upcoming November election.

…Under the U.S.’s TPS program, hundreds of thousands of people from countries affected by war, natural disasters and other crises are allowed to stay in the U.S. temporarily.

As it stands, however, under the Trump administration, more than 400,000 current TPS holders from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan “are at serious risk of losing their work permits and protection from deportation,” the letter states.

…“These TPS holders cannot wait for the legislative process,” the letter, which is being shared with Biden’s campaign on Friday, states. “For these individuals, an immediate DED grant would ensure there are no gaps in their work authorization or protection from deportation.”

While Biden has vowed as part of his campaign platform to “immediately review every [TPS] decision made by the Trump administration to ensure that no one is returned to a country that is not safe,” in addition to seeking to provide a “path to citizenship” in the U.S. for longstanding TPS holders, the letter’s signatories say he can and should go further by guaranteeing DED to not only the hundreds of thousands at risk of losing TPS status, but also to roughly 1.8 million others who could stand to benefit on his first day in office.

“Respectfully…these commitments are insufficient,” the letter states. “If elected president, you will have the authority to protect these populations from day one, and we ask that you exercise that authority.”

…“The need for relief for these people is dire and immediate,” the letter’s signatories state.

For Yanira Arias, a campaign manager at Alianza Americas who helped organize the letter, the urgency of the situation is something she knows all too well.

“Many may start to lose their immigration status, including myself,” Arias said.

While Arias, who came to the U.S. in 2001 from El Salvador, is currently protected under the TPS program, she faces potentially being forced to return to her home country if she does not receive further protections to stay in America before November 2021.

If she is forced to return to El Salvador, Arias says she fears that she will be plunged into the same dangerous circumstances that she fled at the age of 27.

“I was working as a young journalist and every single day that I commuted from home to work, I faced instances of harassment by unknown men,” she said. “I would be walking or on public transportation and would be harassed and the encounters just started to become more and more aggressive.”

…“A potential Biden presidency must begin by extending DED protection to these populations on day one, as a bridge to TPS or other more permanent solutions,” they state, adding: “This relief will not only benefit millions of individuals in the United States, but also their families, employers, communities here and in their countries of origin.”