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Immigrants, Advocates, Faith Leaders, Labor Leaders Condemn Trump Administration TPS Decision

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Last night, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announced her decision to terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Nicaragua with a delayed effective date of 12 months before the designation ultimately terminates on January 5, 2019. DHS did not reach a decision for Honduran TPS holders, automatically triggering a six month extension. The next decision date for DHS is onNovember 23, 2017 for approximately 50,000 Haitians living and working within the United States, with the decision regarding El Salvador expected soon after.

Many advocates were swift to condemn the Trump Administration’s decision. Below is a sampling:

  • UNITE HERE general vice president Maria Elena Durazo, said: “Because of the astounding cruelty and foolhardiness of Donald Trump and the Department of Homeland Security, today hundreds of thousands of lives could be been ruined with this TPS termination. Ending TPS for Nicaraguan recipients or any others will forcibly tear apart American families, taking TPS recipients who have lived in the U.S. for over twenty years from their American-born children, from their jobs, and from their homes. This inhumane decision will be a stain on American history. Donald Trump has taken hundreds of thousands of dedicated employees who serve our country and turned them into targets for deportation overnight.”
  • Center for American Progress Vice President for Immigration Policy, Tom Jawetz, said: “The decision to end TPS for Nicaraguans—individuals who have lived and worked lawfully in the United States for nearly 19 years and have consistently played by the rules—will leave many reeling. For 57,000 Hondurans and their more than 53,000 U.S. citizen children, the Department of Homeland Security’s inability to come to a decision is a mixed bag that leaves more questions unanswered than answered. To retain their protection for just 6 more months, these families will have to pay a substantial fee and undergo background checks—the fourteenth time they will have been asked to do this since they first applied for TPS in 1999—with no guarantee of protection after that short reprieve..”
  • Alianza Americas issued the following statement: “The Department of Homeland Security’s announcement that it will cancel Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 2,500 Nicaraguans who have legally lived and worked in the United States for decades is a shameful decision that ignores their many long-term contributions to this country. The ambivalence on the fate Honduran TPS holders unnecessarily continues to place 57,000 people and their families in a cruel limbo—one that could end with their return to life-threatening conditions in their home country in as little as six months.”
  • Guisell Martinez, TPS Holder from Honduras & member of SEIU USWW said:“Like many Americans, I’ve had to work hard to support my family. My family migrated north from Honduras escaping violence and poverty that was exacerbated by hurricane Mitch. After 19 years working as a janitor, I’ve built a life with a husband and my beautiful children. My fate remains in limbo. I am really worried because we just spent so much money on the renewal and if I lose TPS, I would lose my job and so would my husband. Losing TPS would separate me from my oldest sons and my two youngest girls who all have U.S. Citizenship. I am really worried and scared.”
  • Martha Arevalo, Executive Director of CARECEN-LA, said: “Other than exclusion of immigrants that are non-white, there is no logical reason to cancel this program. Nicaraguans have lived in this country lawfully for almost 20 years, they are the most thoroughly vetted class of immigrants, have massive economic contributions, direct ties to communities in the United States and yet they will be left out in the cold. People with TPS and the immigrant community deserve better.  It’s not fair for families to continue to suffer limbo and an uncertain existence.”
  • Max Arias, Executive Director of SEIU Local 99, said: “As a child of war and conflict in my native El Salvador, I am deeply concerned about the impact of this decision on our families and communities. Ending the TPS program will shatter families who escaped war and disaster and who worked hard to rebuild their lives in this country. It will have reverberating effects on their children, whose stability and security will suddenly be cast into doubt. As education workers, SEIU Local 99 members know that this decision will continue to promote the fear and uncertainty that, sadly, already echoes through our schools and communities. We must do better.”
  • Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director of NDLON, said: “This cruel and racist move to eliminate TPS doesn’t come as a surprise to us. This administration intends to bring down the number of non-white immigrants in this country and this is an effort towards that end. It is still uncertain what will happen to all the TPSianos, but one thing is for sure – we will not go silently. We’re going to fight until our last breath. If the TPSianos go back into the shadows we will not comply. We will not open the doors and we will be sure to exercise our rights to protect our loved ones.”
  • Angelica Salas, CHIRLA Executive Director, said: “The decision to chop the roots off thousands and thousands of legal Nicaraguan families living in the United States and protected by TPS is disastrous, cruel, and un-American.  President Trump is not just ending important life-saving programs such as DACA and TPS, it is destroying dreams, livelihoods, and families.  Congress must act quickly to protect those sent back to living in the shadows by approving a permanent solution now.”
  • David Huerta, President of SEIU-USWW, said: “Today’s hateful, anti-immigrant decision is another reminder from the Trump administration and the Republican majority in congress that regardless if you are here with legal status or a DACA recipient or a child with disabilities we as Latinos, as immigrants are not welcome in America. TPS recipients are working refugees who simply want to work and provide for their children and families, and who for years have greatly contributed to our economy after barely surviving the horrors of a natural disaster, civil war, or some other threat on their lives. To make a callous decision, after in some cases 30 years to revoke temporary protective status, without any alternative will result in the separation of children from their parents, turning our backs on refugees and refusing to allow people to earn a living is absolutely un-American. Yet the Trump Administration pushes on with this senseless agenda at every opportunity. SEIU’s resilience to stand in solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters – regardless of their refugee and immigration status – only grows. We will continue to fight against fear and hate, and work to protect and defend the rights of all individuals and their rightful place in the United State of America.”
  • UndocuBlack Network, the Central American Resource Center-Los Angeles (CARACEN-LA) and the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) released ajoint statement: “TPS holders from Honduras and Nicaragua have been living lawfully in the U.S. for over 18 years. They have established homes, families, and careers in spite of the limbo created by insufficient immigration policy priorities and actions of prior administrations. Many TPS holders have been living in the U.S. for over two decades, with TPS being the only opportunity for some asylum-seekers and refugees to obtain some resemblance of stability. To revoke status and force people to leave their homes, families, and communities behind is unjust and inhumane.”
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) said: “The Administration has already rescinded TPS for over 1,000 people from Sudan, and now hundreds more face an uncertain future. For almost 20 years, TPS holders from Honduras and Nicaragua have worshiped alongside us and brought their gifts to our communities. Without this protection, they will be forced to leave their communities yet again. Children and family members of TPS holders, many of whom are U.S. citizens, will bear the brunt of this Administrative decision. We pray today for all who are suffering due to this decision and who face an uncertain future. We call on the Administration to extend TPS for Hondurans for 18 months and urge Congress to pass timely legislation that protects all TPS holders.”
  • Kica Matos, spokesperson for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), issued this statement: “President Trump is advancing a white supremacist agenda of ethnic cleansing through a number of executive actions and policies, including the most recent move to end TPS for nearly 3,000 Nicaraguans and leaving 57,000 Hondurans in limbo for six months. This is unacceptable and demonstrates this administration’s continued heartless attack on immigrants and their families. These families have created their lives here; they have raised their children and contributed to their communities. They pray in our churches and their kids go to school with ours. Losing their legal status in this country puts them and their families in jeopardy of deportation. TPS recipients fled devastating conditions in their native countries for a better life here—and they achieved it—for it all to be taken away by a group of racist white men who do not understand the struggle these families have lived.”
  • Linda Hartke, president of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), one of the largest refugee resettlement agencies in the U.S., released the following statement today: “The Department of Homeland Security’s termination of the TPS program for Nicaraguans is one more stain on America’s history of humanitarian leadership. This decision overlooked simple truths. Among them, TPS recipients and their families have long integrated into American society. They are valuable members of our communities—they work hard and pay taxes, they own homes and businesses, and many have children who have grown up as U.S. citizens knowing no other homeland. This decision means they will now be targeted for deportation and their U.S. citizen children are at risk of being separated from their families and ending up in the foster care system. As Americans, and people of faith, separating families goes against the very core of our beliefs.”
  • Amanda Baran, Policy Consultant at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center and co-author of ILRC’s report Economic Contributions by Salvadoran, Honduran and Haitian TPS Holders, said: “The Department of Homeland Security’s decision to terminate this protection for people who cannot safely return to their home countries is morally reprehensible. For almost two decades, TPS holders from Nicaragua have lived alongside us and contributed to our economy and our communities. They are our neighbors, our co-workers, and parents to U.S. citizen children. Deporting them will needlessly tear thousands of families apart, with no plan in place to help them after breaking our decades-long commitment to protect them from deportation. In the face of this decision, it is imperative that Congress act and find a durable solution for this population.”
  • We Belong Together, a women-led campaign for immigration policies that keep families together, led by the National Domestic Workers Alliance, said: “We are outraged by the Trump Administration’s decision to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 2,500 Nicaraguans, and to leave nearly 60,000 Hondurans with TPS with uncertain futures. This latest act of cruelty further spreads fear among the hundreds of thousands of TPS recipients from other countries whose fates are also in limbo.”
  • CASA Executive Director Gustavo Torres said: “This is another devastating blow to an immigrant community in this country who has played by the rules, working, opening businesses and contributing successfully to the overall economy. Now they will be discarded and forced to start all over again after 20 years. Families with children who are U.S. citizens will be destroyed.”
  • UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía said: “Today’s decision to end TPS for Hondurans and Nicaraguans will disrupt not just the lives of TPS holders but those of their families and communities. These are individuals who are working and contributing to their local communities, they are business owners and mortgage holders who’ve been put through extensive background checks every 18 months since they’ve arrived. Taking away their legal immigration status is just cruel—it serves no purpose other than to divide families and create economic instability for communities as well as our American allies in Central America.”
  • Mark Hetfield, President and CEO of HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees, remarked that “we must continue to call on Congress to protect not only Nicaraguan and Honduran TPS holders, but also others who could soon be forced to leave their families and return to countries that are ill equipped to accept them. If the administration will not reverse its decision on Nicaragua and extend TPS for other protected countries, Congress must pass bipartisan legislation to permanently protect the hundreds of thousands of TPS holders living in the United States.”
  • The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) National President, Monica Thammarath, stated: “Thousands of Nicaraguans have created deep roots in this country and make meaningful contributions to our society every single day. Tearing working families apart and deporting our immigrant communities will have serious consequences on the moral fabric and economic stability of this country.”
  • The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights president and CEO Vanita Gupta stated: “Today’s announcement is sadly just the latest anti-immigrant action by the Trump administration, and likely not the last. This decision will impact thousands of Nicaraguans who have relied on this protection to safeguard them from being deported to a country that is still experiencing extreme violence and instability. TPS recipients are hardworking, contributing members of our society who pay taxes and bring stability to our economy and national security. This decision will hurt not only those who were protected, but our overall society and economy.”