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Headline Roundup: Press Call With Senator Van Hollen, Advocates Highlights How Essential TPS Holders Are To Maryland, Especially During Pandemic

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 As the Coronavirus continues to take its toll on our country and the state of Maryland, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) workers continue to put their lives on the line to combat the pandemic. Over 6,600 essential workers in Maryland have TPS— they are healthcare workers, janitors, small business owners, delivery and rideshare drivers, and more.

Even before the pandemic took hold, TPS holders were building their lives in American communities, some for decades. In Maryland alone there are over 22,000 TPS holders with over 18,000 U.S.-born children. But now the fate of these Marylanders with TPS like Ramesh, Katherine, Oscar, Ahmed, Elizabeth, and others are in limbo as they await a decision in the lawsuit Ramos v. Nielsen. 

This is why Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) joined the chorus of voices yesterday to urge Senate Republicans to pass permanent protections and a pathway to citizenship for TPS holders and DACA recipients. A press release and recording of a press call yesterday with Sen. Van Hollen is here.

See below for a round-up of reporting below on the event with Sen. Van Hollen and TPS holders:

Christine Condon at the Baltimore Sun wrote, “Maryland Sen. Van Hollen pushes for federal protection for immigrant workers during coronavirus pandemic”:

After the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., Óscar Cedillo said his family didn’t receive aid from the federal government. They relied on their savings, and food donations from their son’s school, to stay afloat.

All the while, Cedillo, a Honduran immigrant with temporary protected status, worked on the front lines as a janitor at Kaiser Permanente clinics in Montgomery County — for no extra pay.

“Cleaners are not highly paid to begin with, and now we are paying with our health and our lives to keep hospitals safe and clean for nurses, doctors and their patients,” Cedillo said. Cedillo spoke in Spanish using an interpreter during a call with Sen. Chris Van Hollen Thursday.

Van Hollen is among the federal legislators pushing to support TPS holders like Cedillo and keep them in the country with a number of legislative fixes that have largely been stonewalled by the Republican-controlled Senate. Many of these workers have been considered essential during the coronavirus pandemic…

WMDT reporter Taylor Lumpkin reported:

Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen is speaking out in favor of temporary protected status holders here in the United States. According to Van Hollen, Maryland has more than 6,000 essential TPS workers in the state who work in industries such as health care, education, and transportation.

He says these workers are vital for both the state and the country’s economy. Which is why he’s working on passing the SECURE Act that would, “Provide protection in security for TPS holders in the United States, and ultimately provide a path to citizenship.”

WBAL’s Kate Amara reported, “Van Hollen bill would provide security, legal status to TPS holders:”

They are among the 29,000 immigrants living in Maryland under temporary protected status, which the White House wants to revoke and Maryland’s U.S. senators are pushing to prevent.

… “I have built my life here. I have a business, a house and an American degree, but what I don’t have is certainty,” a worker said.

“During the peak time of COVID-19, I worked the night shifts at my gas stations so that we could remain open 24 hours and help essential workers get gas to commute to and from work,” said a 32-year-old man from Nepal who owns two gas stations in Baltimore.

On a press call Thursday, 11 News also heard from a woman who was standing in for her godmother, who is a nurse.

“She is now taking care of the elderly with dementia in a ward where everyone has COVID,” the woman said. “She wanted to be on this media call and share her story, but duty called and she answered that call as she always does.”

This comes as President Donald Trump and the Republican administration work to deport TPS holders.

Bryan Renbaum at the Maryland Reporter wrote: “Van Hollen: Ending TPS would hurt both Maryland’s and the nation’s economy:”

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said ending a program that allows people from countries that are either war-torn or disaster-stricken to temporarily stay and work in the U.S. would hurt both Maryland’s and the nation’s economy because the program’s recipients include many essential workers-some of whom are on the frontlines in the fight against the coronavirus.

Van Hollen said the estimated 400,000 TPS holders and their families living in the U.S. “contribute over $164 billion to the GDP every year” and that they include “small business owners, community and civic leaders” and “essential frontline workers.”

… TPS holders Ramesh Bhatta and Katherine said they are happy with their lives in the U.S. and want to stay here.

“I do not know what I would be doing without TPS at the moment,” Bhatta, a gas station owner who emigrated from Nepal in 2008, said.

Bhatta, who earned his Bachelors Degree in 2015, said, “TPS status has helped me achieve a lot in life and made me realize opportunities the opportunities that are there to grab if we are integrated into the society.”

Katherine, who has been a registered nurse for four years, echoed similar sentiments.

“It’s an amazing privilege to be a nurse, especially during these times. And being a TPS holder-it has given me a chance to have this opportunities — to have been able to study and get my nursing degree. And be able to work in an area where I can give back to communities and to a country that has given me so much already.”