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ICYMI: Intensifying Food Insecurity Crisis in Central America Highlights Urgency for TPS Designations

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TPS is an effective solution for humanitarian aid and regional stability and TPS is a decision solely at the President’s discretion

A new piece in the Austin American-Statesman underscores the link between widespread hunger and migration pressures, especially in our hemisphere. More than two million people are estimated to have fled Haiti and the Northern Triangle region of Central America since 2014 as a result of food insecurity and child malnutrition, climate disasters, and civil unrest. Devastating twin hurricanes Eta and Iota compounded the issue by decimating crop harvests a year ago, destroying necessary infrastructure that supports food production like roads and bridges, and wiping out entire communities.

A year after the storms, relief and recovery in these communities has been ineffective, slow, or nonexistent. New Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador could provide immediate humanitarian relief and work to stabilize the region long term through an increased flow of remittances from family members with work authorizations in the United States. 

The Biden Administration has the statutory authority to evaluate and grant TPS independently, without the engagement of Congress. The conditions on the ground in the region clearly meet the criteria for TPS and the Biden Administration should seize this opportunity to make concrete progress towards their commitments to enact humane, commonsense immigration policies instead of continuing to fall short. 

The article is excerpted below and can be read in full here.

“At the same time that President Biden announced making a $10 billion commitment to tackle hunger and malnutrition, the administration was expelling more than 12,000 migrants who had converged, hungry and desperate, in Del Rio.

… tackling hunger sustainably is more complex than just distributing food parcels. It requires strengthening rural areas all over the world that support farmers and provide them livelihoods, improving the conditions that lead to migration, often first to cities and eventually overseas.

…The fact is that hunger and migration are secondary consequences of the systemic failure to invest in small-scale farmers and rural communities

…Firstly, the goal should be to grow livelihoods, not just food. Agriculture offers families a way to not only feed themselves but also to generate income, giving them the collateral to afford health care and education, and to cope with the unpredictable, like natural disasters or political instability.

And yet there is more to be done. The economic impacts of COVID-19 contributed to 124 million more people falling into poverty, and around 600 million people are expected to still live in poverty by 2030 unless urgent action is taken.

…Today, two-thirds of young children do not eat the minimum diverse diets required to grow healthily. Besides the obvious issue of malnutrition itself, this also has ripple effects in terms of their ability to learn and to work productively as adults.

…The agricultural sector is one of few that provides both a basic human right and the opportunity to go beyond poverty alleviation for true social mobility that reduces irregular migration – when small-scale farmers are connected to productive and profitable markets. Surely, this is in everyone’s best interests, including the U.S.”