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ICYMI: “Uncertainty reigns for immigrants with temporary status in the era of COVID-19”

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“…How can you pack 20 years of your life?”

In a new article for the St. Cloud Times, reporter Nora G. Hertel highlights the experiences of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders living in Minnesota who are under constant threat from the Trump administration during a global pandemic. In her article, Hertel covers TPS holders who have settled in Minnesota from countries like Somalia and El Salvador devastated by natural disasters, civil strife, and widespread violence. After decades living in the United States they have built families, businesses, and communities here.

As this article shows, TPS holders and the broader immigrant community were the backbone of our nation before the Coronavirus hit, and they remain so today now that we are in the middle of a global pandemic. However, because of the Trump administration’s actions, their lives here, and those of their families and employees, are in limbo.

Hertel’s reporting is excerpted below and is available in full here:

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that President Donald Trump’s administration can’t end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that allows more than a half million young, undocumented immigrants to work.

DACA remains in place, but its future and the futures of the nearly 650,000 people in the program remain uncertain. The same is true for people in the U.S. under temporary protected status.

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Minnesota advocates and Minnesotans who immigrated here with temporary protected status gathered on a call with reporters Thursday hosted by Washington, D.C.,-based America’s Voice.

They highlighted the challenges of living and working in limbo during the COVID-19 pandemic and asked Congress for permanent protections and a path to citizenship

“In Minnesota and throughout America we have thousands of Somali TPS holders who continue to face the agonizing uncertainty of their future,” Omar said. “Many TPS holders have escaped (the militant group) al-Shabab and will return to Somalia with a target on their back if they’re forced to return.”

…Jacqueline Batres Bonilla has spent more time in the U.S. than in her native El Salvador. She’s been in the U.S. for nearly two decades, including years when she received life-saving cancer treatment in Minnesota.

“I probably would not be alive today,” Bonilla said on Thursday’s call

…Immigrants in the DACA and TPS programs make up large swaths of the health care and essential workforce. More than 130,000 temporary protected status holders from El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti have served as essential workers during the pandemic, according to an April report from the Center for American Progress.

…The uncertainty of people’s immigration status is compounded by the stress of the pandemic, Bonilla said.

“It takes a toll on people, emotionally and mentally,” Bonilla said. “Like (my husband) Marvin says — and we always have this in our mindset — how can you pack 20 years of your life?”