6,600 TPS holders in MD Working at Forefront of the COVID-19 Response
A recording of the call is available here.
Earlier today, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic in Maryland joined Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and immigration experts and organizers to discuss the critical role TPS holders have in their communities especially during the COVD-19 crisis, even as the Trump administration is trying to deport them.
At least 6,600 TPS holders are working in occupations involved in response to COVID-19. Their essential work has been sustaining towns and cities well before the pandemic took hold and have tirelessly supported their communities throughout months of lockdowns and social distancing orders. Even so, the Trump administration continues racist attempts to unlawfully uproot them from their homes, families, and livelihoods.
Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) said, “The Trump Administration’s efforts to strip TPS holders of their protected status and deport them is not only grossly unjust, it is also plain stupid. These individuals are working legally and productively in our communities, and over 130,000 TPS holders are essential workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 response in Maryland and around the country. Deportation will not only hurt them, it will harm all our communities. I will continue fighting for protections for these individuals – including the passage of our SECURE Act and the Dream and Promise Act and the extension of TPS employment authorization provisions.”
“This is a very important conversation about people who are making an extraordinary difference during this pandemic. TPS holders are heroes who have been right in the center of it all trying to make sure we get through. They are essential workers who must and need to stay with their families and their communities,” said Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA. “So, there is no question that hundreds of thousands of TPS holders must be protected.”
“I am a 32 year old from Nepal. I work as a gas station owner and I came to Maryland as a student. My mother, father, and three sisters are in Nepal. I am financially supporting my family. I started out as a gas station worker, working the night shifts behind a bullet proof case, which was difficult and tiring, but I wanted to work,” said Ramesh, a Nepali TPS Holder, Gas Station Owner, and Adhikaar Member. “My college degree and TPS status made it possible for me to go from a gas station worker to a business owner. TPS status has made it possible for me to achieve my dream and integrate into society. It has inspired me to give back to my community. And during the pandemic, I have been working to help those around me get hand sanitizer, face masks, and enough food. During the peak of COVID-19, I worked the night shift at the gas station I own to ensure it would be open 24 hours. Being an essential worker has taught me that my work counts.I have built my life here. My business, home, and life are all here in America, but what I don’t have is permanent status to live here.”
Katherine, a TPS Holder and Registered Nurse said, “I’m a Registered Nurse in Maryland, and part time in DC. I have been an RN for 4 years, it’s an amazing privilege to be a nurse, especially in these times. Being a TPS holder has given me a chance to have these opportunities, to study to get my degree and to give back to a country that has given me so much already. I’m currently in a nurse practitioner program, and I hope to be able to practice in the area of psychiatric care after I finish. But, there’s uncertainty if I’ll be able to do that if TPS is discontinued and there is no other resolution. There is uncertainty about what would happen to my family, and who would support them. I do a lot of public health these days, coordinating covid tests for patients and doing primary care. Without TPS, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be helping out during this crisis. It’s scary, but hopefully i get to keep serving during this crisis, and after I complete my advanced degree”
Jessica, goddaughter of a TPS Holder/ Nurse & Essential Worker said, “My godmother Elizabeth Valencia is a CASA member and nursing home aide, who started off in the maintenance department decades ago. When her supervisor saw how smart and hardworking she was, they paid for her health care degree. Now she cares for the elderly with dementia in a nursing home ward completely infected with COVID-19. She wears a mask, gloves, and a suit to keep herself safe, not eating or even taking one sip of water during her shift because she is terrified of using the restroom, risking the virus get past her protective equipment. She loves what she does, she told me that she would do this work even if she didn’t get paid. There are 6,600 workers just like my godmother on the frontlines as care providers, construction workers and more. The House of Representatives did its jobs; now it’s time for the Senate to support the TPS holders in their states.”
Ahmed, a Sudanese TPS Holder & Limo/Rideshare Driver and member of African Communities Together said, “I am a TPS holder from Sudan and have been living in Maryland since 1998. Before the pandemic, I drove as an independent contractor driving foreign dignitaries visiting the U.S. When the pandemic hit most international travel stopped and I lost a lot of business. I began driving Uber and Lyft and helping people in my community get around, especially as more people became uncomfortable taking the bus or metro. There is a risk every time I pick someone up for a ride but this is work that needs to be done and I am proud to support Maryland. A lot of work I have been able to do over the years has been because of my legal immigration status, but Trump wants to end TPS for Sudan. I need permanent protections because it would provide real stability and allow me to continue supporting myself in Maryland and my family in Sudan; I could better myself and contribute even more to the U.S.”
Óscar, a TPS Holder from Honduras and Janitor said, “My work is not only essential to reducing the spread of COVID-19 but I risk my health and my family’s health every single time I show up without any extra pay. I clean offices day and night, 12 hours per day, 5 days per week, all I ask is for the opportunity to continue working, help the country survive the pandemic and see my children grow up in their country.” Óscar is a 32BJ SEIU member with TPS living, working and contributing to the U.S. for over 22 years in Montgomery County, MD.
Maria Naranjo, Deputy Director and Elected District Leader at SEIU 32BJ said, “32BJ’s Black and immigrant cleaners, security officers, food service and airport workers have been essential to keeping people safe and our economy running, even as they and their loved ones get sick and die from COVID-19. It’s time for Congress to protect TPS heroes from deportation. In November, we will elect new leaders who will once and for all, protect these workers and keep families together”