tags: , , AVEF, Press Releases

Clergy, Impacted Immigrants, Faith & Labor Leaders Demand that DHS Extends TPS for 200K Salvadoran Immigrants

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DHS decision expected by Monday

A recording of this afternoon’s call is available here.

On a press call this afternoon, clergy, impacted immigrants, faith, and labor leaders urged the Department of Homeland Security to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants who would be impacted by the revocation of the program.

A decision for Salvadoran TPS is due by this Monday, January 8th.

Vanessa Velasco, a Salvadoran TPS holder from San Francisco, CA said:

My family has been in the United States for around two decades.  Our children are United States citizens, and TPS has allowed us to work and provide for our kids.  We contribute to the economic and social fabric of this nation. For us to lose this benefit would cause economic distress and cause severe emotional damage to our family and, most importantly, to our children. We will have to take our children to a country they do not even know, after they have worked to build their lives here.  For example, my daughter works hard at her education; she has a 4.4 GPA at her high school and is an athlete.  If TPS is revoked, she will have to leave these dreams and hard work behind.  This will cause her and the rest of us terrible pain.  I want to thank those that have stood with us in solidarity; this community is what keeps us fighting and keeps us hopeful.

Jaime Contreras, a naturalized U.S. citizen from El Salvador, U.S. Navy veteran and Vice President 32BJ SEIU said:

When I served our country in the U.S. Navy in the 1990’s, I was protecting American values of freedom and democracy. Today however, I am alarmed to find those values replaced by a cruel campaign to deport working moms and dads who have lived here legally for many years. I challenge leaders in Congress and DHS to look into the eyes of the parents who risked their lives and their children’s lives to escape war and poverty, who are simply trying to build a life for their families like anyone else. An overwhelming majority of faith, labor, and business groups are united in their resolve to protect immigrants and their families, who are indispensable to our communities and keep our economy running.

TPS recipients do the jobs that most Americans won’t do, working at a higher rate (88 percent) than the overall population (63 percent).  Ending TPS would cost employers $1 billion in immediate turnover costs, while our nation would lose nearly $45 billion in GDP and another $6.9 billion in lost Social Security and Medicare contributions over a decade. It would also put over 60,000 mortgages at risk of foreclosure, creating zombie houses that are an invitation to crime, while leaving federal government on the hook for billions of dollars.

Karla Alvarado, a Salvadoran TPS holder from Philadelphia, PA said:

I’ve been here for 20 years; I came when I was 9 years old.  This country is all I know.  I was able to go to school and become an RN through the TPS program.  I don’t know my country of origin; I can’t even imagine what it is like to live there.  I have a mortgage to pay here.  I am at the peak of my career right now; I’ve been a Nursing Supervisor for the past 3 years.  I can’t imagine now telling my colleagues I can’t work past March.  I can’t imagine not being here with my family, my new husband, and my brothers and sisters who look up to me.  I want them to feel like it is possible to achieve the American Dream.  I was the first person in my family to go to college.  I am pleading people to look at the bigger picture: get in touch with your humanity.  This is tearing families apart.  I’m keeping faith that the government will make the right choice and let us stay here in our home.

Reverend Noel Andersen from Church World Service said:

There are thousands of Salvadoran TPS beneficiaries throughout congregations in the CWS network who have built a life here.  This is a policy that has been renewed time and again by different administrations regardless of party because we cannot in good conscious send people back into harm’s way.  Terminating TPS for Salvadorans would be morally wrong, leading to the separation of families, tearing parents from children, and dividing communities.  This administration must extend TPS for at least another 18 months so that we can keep families together and continue to strengthen our communities.

Rev. Maria Swearingen from Calvary Baptist Church in D.C. said:

TPS is not an abstract topic or lifeless acronym; at the church I pastor, this acronym is deeply personal. This acronym includes families I have prayed with, cried with, laughed with, struggled with, and lived with. Today, as our congregation awaits a decision, we are thinking about what it would mean to suddenly lose faithful members of our community to the whims of people in power who either refuse to or cannot see how a decision like this affects real human lives.  I implore this administration to treat TPS-holders from El Salvador with the dignity they deserve and I know that if this nation dares to call itself a moral one, it ought to tremble with fear when its policies and practices do not align with the claims it makes about liberty and justice for all.

Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, Director, Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the U.S. & Canada said:

This faith season of Epiphany we are just entering is most especially tied to the challenges and pain of Salvadoran TPS recipients.  As Epiphany recalls the escape to Egypt of Jesus’ family in order to flee horrific violence upon his community, we know the protection offered to Salvadoran recipients must be extended by DHS to ensure that they are not returned now into conditions of some of the world’s worst violence.  As Epiphany was a season that gathered leaders from far places to celebrate light and hope to break through darkness, we pray our nation’s officials will choose to hear our many gathered faith and human rights voices that are morally outraged by threats to end their protections through TPS.  May DHS leaders likewise see the light of contributions offered by TPS families, and choose to keep families together by renewing TPS for Salvadoran recipients.