Granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras can provide stability to region and safety to those who have fled disasters
In a letter sent yesterday to the Biden Administration, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services are calling for TPS to be granted to migrants from Central American countries devastated by November hurricanes Eta and Iota. TPS was created for this exact situation, and Catholic leaders are echoing calls from the broader immigrant advocacy community to protect those whose home countries are unsafe to return to because of deteriorating conditions and ongoing instability.
Below are two key stories highlighting the news and lifting up coverage of the damage caused by the natural disasters:
From the Catholic News Agency: “U.S. bishops request that foreign nationals from hurricane-devastated countries not be deported”:
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, leading U.S. bishops and the head of CRS urged the administration to grant 18-month Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to foreign nationals from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
‘Current conditions prevent foreign nationals from returning safely, and managing their return would only add to existing challenges,’ the letter states. ‘This is compounded with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which further strains limited resources on the ground and imposes an added layer of complication for return.’
…The four Central American countries mentioned by the bishops have been severely impacted by November hurricanes. According to Caritas International, Hurricane Eta was the most powerful hurricane to hit Central America in 20 years.
Both Eta and Hurricane Iota–category 4 hurricanes which made landfall within three weeks of each other and only 15 miles apart–displaced hundreds of thousands of people and caused more than $700 million in estimated damages in Nicaragua alone, the bishops said in their letter.
The U.S. has a ‘moral responsibility’ to provide a legal haven for persons hailing from these countries, the bishops wrote, saying that the hurricanes “have devastated communities across Central America.”
‘In addition to providing life-saving humanitarian assistance to populations in need, the U.S. has a moral responsibility to provide foreign nationals from these countries currently present in the U.S. temporary humanitarian protection,’ the letter states.
In November, Category 4 hurricanes Eta and Iota ‘devastated communities’ in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, the three Catholic leaders said. “In addition to providing life-saving humanitarian assistance to populations in need, the U.S. has a moral responsibility to provide foreign nationals from these countries currently present in the U.S. temporary humanitarian protection,” known as TPS.
…Undoubtedly, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala are facing the aftermath of an environmental disaster. Therefore, we strongly urge (the Biden administration) to designate TPS for these countries for a period of 18 months,” wrote Bishop Dorsonville, Bishop Malloy and Callahan.
‘Current conditions prevent foreign nationals from returning safely and managing their return would only add to existing challenges,’ they said. ‘This is compounded with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which further strains limited resources on the ground and imposes an added layer of complication for return.’
‘…Over 300,000 people in both official and unofficial emergency shelters in Guatemala and Honduras and hundreds of thousands of other individuals isolated from any humanitarian assistance,’ the Catholic leaders told Blinken and Mayorkas. ‘While immediate efforts to respond to life-saving needs are underway, long-term recovery efforts will be required.’
The damage and economic losses in Nicaragua alone are expected to exceed $700 million, they said. Throughout the region, thousands of homes were destroyed and many people are without potable water. In addition, tens of thousands of acres of crops were destroyed.