Trenton, NJ – According to this North Jersey.com piece, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal signed on to a letter sent this week to members of Congress urging them to pass legislation that will provide legal status to TPS holding Haitians and Salvadorans who will soon be subject to deportation.
In a statement, Grewal said:
TPS beneficiaries are homeowners and business owners, and have become valued wage-earners and members of the communities in which they live here in New Jersey. If no action is taken, thousands of our neighbors will face a return to unsafe conditions in the countries from which they fled, and also confront potential harm to their families in the form of distance, separation, and dislocation.
The piece in its entirety can be accessed here, and follows below:
A coalition of 19 attorneys general sent a letter this week to members of Congress urging them to pass legislation that will provide legal status to Haitians and Salvadorans whose authorization to work and protection from deportation will expire next year.
In a statement announcing his participation, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal pointed to the approximately 10,000 citizens from Haiti and El Salvador who live and work in the Garden State and who have been granted Temporary Protected Status. TPS is granted to foreign nationals living in the U.S. from countries experiencing natural disasters, armed conflict or extraordinary conditions.
Grewal said the removal of TPS holders from the local workforce could result in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars from the state’s economy. TPS holders, he said, are also parents of thousands of U.S.-born children living in New Jersey.
“TPS beneficiaries are homeowners and business owners, and have become valued wage-earners and members of the communities in which they live here in New Jersey,” he said in the statement. “If no action is taken, thousands of our neighbors will face a return to unsafe conditions in the countries from which they fled, and also confront potential harm to their families in the form of distance, separation, and dislocation.”
Besides Grewal, the letter was signed by attorneys general from the states of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, and the District of Columbia. The letter was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
The Trump administration announced in November that it would end TPS for Haiti in July 2019, and two months later announced it would lift the protections for those from El Salvador in September 2019. Once the program ends for the respective countries, TPS holders who are unable to obtain legal residency must return to their homelands. If they don’t leave, they will become part of the 11 million immigrants living in the country without permission and will be at risk for deportation.
Nationwide, there are more than 260,000 people from El Salvador and about 60,000 from Haiti who have TPS. There are 6,800 Salvadorans and 3,400 Haitian TPS holders living in New Jersey, according to the Center for American Progress.
Supporters of stricter immigration laws have argued that the temporary protections offered under TPS had been extended beyond reason, and their termination from certain countries have been long overdue.
Matt O’Brien, director of research for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a national organization that has pushed for controlled borders, reduced immigration and better enforcement, said the use of TPS to provide a back-door amnesty to hundreds of thousands of immigrants who have overstayed their permissions to be in the United States is a “flagrant Executive Branch” abuse.
“FAIR believes that if we are to restore the rule of law to our immigration system, the TPS program should eventually be amended, or eliminated because it relies on vague, unworkable legal standards,” he said in an email. “However, while TPS legislation remains in force, the program must be used for its intended and limited purpose. We, therefore, support the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the Temporary Protected Status designations for Haiti and El Salvador.”
TPS was granted to Salvadorans after a series of earthquakes hit the country in 2001. Those protections, which come with work permits, had been renewed at 18-month intervals ever since. Haitians living in the United States received TPS in 2010 after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated the country.
In the letter, the attorneys general state that the safety of TPS holders will be endangered if they are forced to return to their countries, which they say are still recovering from the “unsafe conditions on which their TPS designations were based.”
“We encourage Congress to act now, before these valued community members are forced from the country that has become their home,” the letter reads.
Esther Chavez, a volunteer for American Friends Service Committee in Newark, said it helped to hear about the letter and know that a lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco this week challenging Trump’s plan to end TPS.
“This is such a great sign, and welcomed,’’ Chavez said. “This gives us hope that maybe something could happen that is great for the community with TPS.”
Chavez said she rallied this week in Newark to push for legislation. She said the event was attended by about 30 people, a majority of whom are TPS holders.
Dinora Galdamez Martinez of Fairview, who has TPS and has lived in the United States for nearly 18 years, said she was grateful to have Grewal on her side.
“There are people with good hearts that are helping us, that say that this isn’t just and that it’s not right for people who have been living here a long time to go,’’ she said in Spanish. “I know that this is the country of others, but we are thankful to be here, and we only ask that they give us an opportunity to stay and continue to contribute to this country.”
Besides El Salvador and Haiti, the TPS program covers some citizens of Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Late last year, the Trump administration announced it would end TPS for about 5,300 Nicaraguans in January 2019, and for 1,039 people from Sudan this November. In January, the Department of Homeland Security announced it would extend TPS for nearly 7,000 Syrians, whose homeland is still at war. But it stated that no new applications would be received from Syrians who arrived after Aug. 1, 2016.
DHS is expected to make an announcement in May on the future of TPS for more than 80,000 Hondurans, including 3,700 in New Jersey, whose protections were extended in January for six months until July.