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ICYMI: Compounding Crises in Central America Increase Urgency For TPS Designations

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Advocates and Potential TPS Holders urge The Biden Administration to Designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras & Nicaragua

In a new article for HuffPost, Sarah Ruiz-Grossman reports on escalating violence, widespread poverty, and mounting climate concerns in Central America. In turn, these crises are prompting calls for the Biden Administration to act urgently on designating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

Ruiz-Grossman covered a series of actions throughout the week organized by Alianza Americas, Presente.org, CARECEN of Washington DC, Hondurans Against AIDS and Casa Yurumein, including a press call yesterday. Advocates and potential TPS holders highlighted the challenges immigrants from Central America face as they flee countries ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic and made even more unsafe due to violence, poverty, and climate change. The dangerous and rapidly destabilizing conditions in the Northern Triangle region represent the exact type of situation TPS was created to address. 

The HuffPost article is excerpted below and available online here

Immigrants and their advocates are calling on the Biden administration to grant protections from deportation to Central Americans who have fled their countries due to poverty, violence and catastrophic hurricanes.

In a Thursday press call, immigrant rights groups Alianza Americas and Presente.org urged President Joe Biden to grant a new temporary protected status designation to four Central American countries — Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras — which would allow immigrants from those nations to live and work legally in the U.S. on a temporary basis.

…Over the past year, Central Americans have not only had to face the hardship of the COVID-19 crisis, but the region was also severely damaged by deadly hurricanes Eta and Iota last fall, on top of existing long-term crises that include high rates of poverty and violence.

Currently about 195,000 people from El Salvador have temporary protected status in the U.S., as well as some 57,000 people from Honduras and 2,500 from Nicaragua.

Without a new designation, thousands of immigrants from those countries and Guatemala could face deportation to the nations they fled due to economic hardship, violence or climate change.

“I’m asking President Biden to provide TPS status so we can work with dignity without fear of being deported,” Ana Ortiz, an undocumented domestic worker from El Salvador, said in Spanish. The mother of two fled El Salvador due to intimate partner violence and poverty.

…Last November, devastating back-to-back hurricanes, Eta and Iota, slammed Central America, leading to dozens dying in mudslides in Guatemala, tens of thousands of homes being destroyed across the region, and half a million people being displaced from their homes.

The destruction of climate change added to existing issues in the region, such as El Salvador facing a serious gang violence problem, with one of the highest homicide rates in the world.

On the press call, 29-year-old Alexandra Yulieth Mejia, a single mother of two from Honduras, described fleeing Honduras due to poverty after the devastation of hurricane Eta.

…“It’s a question of life or death,” Mejia said of receiving status to stay here. TPS would allow her to work legally, send money to her grandmother who raised her and has health issues in Honduras, and study to become a nurse.

Advocates pointed out that temporary protected status is just that — temporary — and requires regular renewals for immigrants to stay protected from deportation. They are calling on Congress to provide a path for all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to obtain permanent residency.