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Senate Democrats to Biden Administration: Expand Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Central Americans

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Washington, DC — A letter from Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and 32 Senate Colleagues urges the Biden Administration to expand Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to protect vulnerable Central Americans from deportation to unsafe conditions. 

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to rage and more than a year after devastating twin hurricanes Eta and Iota impacted Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, Central America has been slow to recover and millions are struggling with food and water insecurity, widespread violence, and economic collapse.

The power is fully in the Biden Administration’s hands to fulfill their promises to turn the page on cruel, inhumane immigration policies, and their fellow Democrats are calling on them to use it. Reports have found no strong evidence that TPS designations increase irregular migration to the U.S., but we do know that leaving people vulnerable to deportation to countries with “emergency level” food crises endangers lives and could further destabilize the region by reducing the flow of life-saving remittances.

According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communications for America’s Voice, 

Senator Menendez and his colleagues have shown tremendous leadership and courage in calling on the President to make good on his promises to protect vulnerable people. With the window for legislative action shrinking, the Biden Administration still has full executive authority to grant TPS designations and protect immigrants already living, working, and paying taxes in the U.S. TPS doesn’t push new immigrants to come to the U.S., but it does protect people already here who are essential workers and part of our communities. Central American families already here are protected from deportation and able to work legally in the U.S., contributing even more than they already do to our common wellbeing. President Biden doesn’t need to wait on a stalled Congress to act on sound humanitarian policy that is also good for our economy. 

The full text of the letter can be found here with key excerpts below: 

“We write to express our concerns about ongoing humanitarian needs in Central America and to  appeal for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) redesignations for El Salvador, Honduras, and  Nicaragua, and a new TPS designation for Guatemala. It is our assessment that the severe  damage caused by back-to-back hurricanes just over one year ago, combined with extreme  drought conditions, and the social and economic crises exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,  warrant such an action by the Administration.

…The crisis in Central America is urgent. In the past year, the region has experienced extreme  weather events, including two hurricanes followed by a months-long drought. According to the  World Food Program (WFP), farmers in the region face the worst dry farming season in 35 years.  Hunger in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua has increased almost fourfold over  the past two years, according to WFP, from 2.2 million people in 2018 to close to 8 million  people in 2021.

…Combined, the effects of the natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic have profoundly  exacerbated food insecurity, violence, and led to rising social tensions. Forced displacement  continues to plague the region. Over one million Central Americans have been displaced by violence and insecurity.

…TPS is a humanitarian tool used by both Democratic and Republican administrations to provide relief for individuals who are unable to return to countries facing extraordinary conditions. The Biden administration must act and provide certainty for eligible individuals from Central  America during this challenging moment.

…It is our view that El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua meet the standards for TPS.  We look forward to working closely with and supporting the Biden administration as it takes this  important step to uphold humanitarian protections, safeguard U.S. national security interests, and  defend American families.”