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ICYMI: Advocates, Experts, Impacted Persons Call on Biden Admin. to Designate TPS for Central American Countries Devastated by Hurricanes Eta & Iota 

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Late last year, Hurricanes Eta and Iota ripped through Central America. The hurricanes devastated the region, prompting Guatemalan and Honduran governments to request Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from the U.S. government. TPS would protect nationals from those countries already living in the U.S. from deportation back to those countries, which are unable to receive and support them in a time of crisis.

Earlier this week Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), Representative Darren Soto (FL-09), advocates and impacted persons called on the Biden administration to designate TPS for Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. Designating countries devastated by the hurricanes for TPS would save lives, but would also be part of a regional approach to Central American countries that would help create stability by providing economic assistance through remittances from immigrants already settled and working in the U.S. You can find a recording of this week’s earlier event here

Please see below for a round up of reporting calling for the Biden administration to designate TPS for Central American countries:

Ericka Conant at Al Dia reported: Rep. Darren Soto and others want to expand TPS status for Hurricane Iota, Eta survivors 

On Tuesday, Jan 26, Rep. Darren Soto (FL-09) and  Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) sat down with advocates from Alianza Americas, the Center for American Progress, Oxfam, and Nancy Ruiz, an essential worker from Honduras who told her story to listeners, in an effort to expand TPS to her home country.

She addressed the president directly.

“A new TPS for Honduras would change my life, my daughters, and my mothers. I want to have more job opportunities, pay for health insurance, I want to get trained as a nurse, to take care of other people, and most importantly that they don’t separate me from my daughter,” Ruiz said. 

… Kaine and his fellow Democratic  Senator from Virginia, Sen. Mark Warner, sent a letter to DHS Secretary designate Alejandro Mayorkas in December, asking him to take “swift action once confirmed” to protect the 58,000 TPS  recipients living in Virginia and Maryland alone, specifically from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Nepal, and Sudan.

Kaine referenced estimates of up to a decade of recovery from the onslaught of hurricanes in the Central American region, citing it as the reason for his quest for the redesignation and expansion of TPS. Kaine referenced estimates of up to a decade of recovery from the onslaught of hurricanes in the Central American region, citing it as the reason for his quest for the redesignation and expansion of TPS. 

Rep. Darren Soto connected the humanitarian crisis to the constituents he represents in Central Florida. Like Kaine,  Soto said he said many have TPS status from conflict in their countries of origin. 

… Oscar A. Chacón with Alianza Americas drew the humanitarian issue home,  and away from partisan lines. 

“There’s no question that the storms came at a terrible moment,” he said, adding that it only exacerbated the effects of COVID-19 over the past years. 

Chacón also brought the integral historic and racial elements into the picture.

“These are countries that have suffered historically — of profound inequalities, from very extreme levels of poverty,” he said. “We are absolutely calling on President Biden, Vice President Harris, to absolutely consider granting this new designation which would benefit people who are already protected from some of the countries, including Guatemala, which is in significant need of support at this time.”

Chacón added that most of the people affected are from indigenous or Afro communities, “which, among the poor, have also been the poorest of the poor.” 

It must also be addressed, Chacón added, that Central Americans send millions back to their families in their home countries annually. By this reasoning and more, enacting a new TPS protection measure would benefit both their communities and the United States in stabilizing the Central American economy.  

… But as Chacón stated, at the heart of the crisis is the prolonged effect that the hurricane season has had on the most disenfranchised communities in Central America, who would benefit from expanded status — and increased attention on their situation in general. 

Scott Powers at Florida Politics wrote: Darren Soto urges protective status for Central American hurricane refugees

Soto of Kissimmee, Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and several immigration advocates called Tuesday for President Joe Biden to extend TPS protection to refugees from Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.

Those four countries, already beleaguered by acute and chronic economic and political problems, were blasted by Category 4 Hurricane Eta and then Category 5 Hurricane Iota within weeks of each other in November.

… Some immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras already have TPS status in the United States, extended after Hurricane Mitch slammed those countries in 1998.

Those on the media call with Soto and Kaine Tuesday contended Eta and Iota were a double punch comparable to Mitch in causing damage to the countries’ infrastructure and health care systems, and the punches came in the middle of a pandemic.

Humanitarian aid worker George Redman, with Oxfam, has been working in Honduras since Hurricane Mitch.

“I have never seen the situation so desperate and I have never seen people so lacking in hope,” Redman said.

The Augusta Free Press reported: Kaine, Soto ask Biden to designate countries devastated by Eta, Iota with TPS

… Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., are pressing the Biden administration to designate Temporary Protected Status for those from countries devastated by the hurricanes Eta.

“I lived in Honduras in 1980 and ‘81, so that gives me a particular interest in the TPS program; I have focused a lot of attention on it since coming to the Senate in 2013,” Kaine said. “When we did comprehensive immigration reform in 2013; I worked hard to make sure that that bill in the Senate included strong protection for TPS recipients, including a path for them to move towards citizenship. I’m also a cosponsor of the SECURE Act, which would give current individuals with TPS the ability to apply for legal permanent residency… 58,000 TPS recipients from the countries of El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Nepal, and Sudan live in the DMV area, and they are strong contributors to our communities and our economy.

“The Trump administration, over and over again, tried to terminate the TPS programs for more than 400,000 TPS residents in the US. President Biden called these terminations politically motivated… I’m pleased that Joe Biden has said immigration reform is a first priority. Just as I did in 2013, I’m going to not only write the administration and urge them to take appropriate administrative action, but I’m going to do all I can to make sure that comprehensive immigration reform gets done for the first time since 1986 and when it gets done, it provides ample protections for TPS recipient,” Kaine said.

“It’s a new day in Washington particularly as we look for a more human, more comprehensive, and more workable immigration policy here in the United States under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris,” Soto said. “Whether it is the extension of DACA or whether it is Temporary Protected Status. Folks from Central America including Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala already have the temporary protected status.

“We have many folks who live in Florida, some of which have called Florida their home for nearly 20 years. This is another key TPS issue. This is exactly what the temporary protected system program was intended to help remedy. A key distinction is that TPS is a more firm status — it provides for extensions. We need to think long term for people who are here with their families in the United States. Our TPS communities are a priority for Congress.”