In a new piece for the Texas Tribune, Julián Aguilar highlights the stories of Gerson Bonilla and Gloria Soto, two Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients currently living under threat of deportation. Like the more than 300,00 TPS recipients currently residing in the U.S., Gerson and Gloria are concerned about their lives and the lives of their American citizen children being upended due to a Trump administration push to terminate TPS. Aguilar reports on their stories and the negative implications for the economy, communities, and the COVID recovery if TPS holders– including thousands of essential workers– are forced to leave their homes.
The article is excerpted below and can be read in full here:
“Despite knowing that everything he’s worked for over the past three decades could be wiped out within months, Gerson Bonilla hasn’t started thinking about coming up with a Plan B.
Bonilla, 49, fled his native El Salvador in 1989 during that country’s violent civil war and received permission to legally stay under a humanitarian program called Temporary Protective Status, which allows citizens of countries experiencing conflict, natural disasters or other emergencies to take temporary refuge in the U.S.
The program was established in 1990 under President George H.W. Bush and currently offers protection for more than 300,000 immigrants living in the U.S. In 2017, about 45,000 people from El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti lived in Texas under the program, according to a report by the Center for American Progress. Those families had a combined 53,800 U.S. citizen children, according to the report.
…But in a victory for the Trump administration and its immigration hardliners, an appellate court last month ruled the White House could end the program for recipients from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Sudan.
…Some conservative groups argue that TPS holders only been allowed to remain in country for decades because of biased judges. They have cheered the court’s decision to end the program.
…If the appeals court or the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t reverse the earlier ruling, Bonilla could be sent back to a country he has only visited once in more than 30 years.
“We have to keep working, we have to survive the pandemic,” he said. “We’re going to keep moving forward, one way or another, life continues. We’ll see if there is a change in the administration” on Election Day.
Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign said that if elected, the Democratic presidential candidate would protect TPS recipients.
Meanwhile, many immigrants with protected status are turning to civic activism to put pressure on elected officials. The National TPS Alliance announced a 54-city bus tour in response to last month’s decision that includes visits to 32 states where TPS holders will engage with voters and teach them about the program and the benefits its recipients bring to the country.
…TPS recipients and their allies are pushing for legislation to allow some TPS recipients the opportunity to apply for legally residency. TPS protection doesn’t automatically lead to permanent residency, but recipients can apply for other forms of relief like a nonimmigrant visa or an adjustment of immigration status, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.”