Washington, DC – This week, Vice President Harris traveled to Honduras, to attend the inauguration of new President Xiomara Castro and to reiterate the U.S. commitment to regional stability in Central America. Next week, we arrive at the one-year anniversary of President Biden’s executive order that aimed to create a regional framework to address the root causes of migration from Central America and “foster sustainable societies” throughout the Northern Triangle.
In the context of this renewed attention, experts and advocates are highlighting that a important way to advance U.S. interests, strengthen regional stability, and address the root causes of migration is to redesignate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Honduras, as well as for the neighboring countries of El Salvador and Nicaragua. In addition, we call on the administration to issue a new TPS designation for Guatemala. TPS grants a form of temporary status for migrants from specific countries already living and raising families in the U.S., allowing them to work legally, improve their incomes and send additional monies back to family in the region through remittances.
As Rafael Bernal writes in The Hill:
[T]he Biden administration faces pressure to use executive action to relieve pressure on Honduras by re-designating the country for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The re-designation would give certainty to Honduran nationals already in the United States that they can continue to live and work legally in the country.
While Honduras is currently designated for TPS, the designation is only in place due to a court injunction against former President Trump’s attempt to strip it from the country, an action that would render about 80,000 Hondurans deportable. Hondurans with TPS are guaranteed their benefits until the end of 2022; a new designation would almost certainly expand the number of Hondurans covered by the program.
‘If the Biden administration seeks to immediately address the root causes of migration, they must first re-designate and expand the Temporary Protected Status program for Honduras, for Central America and for millions who continue to escape instability in their native countries,’ said Jessika Girón, a Honduran TPS holder with the TPS Committee of Morristown, N.J.
Other voices are making the same case: offering reminders why TPS redesignation will both bring stability for the region and stability for essential workers and communities in the U.S. (For a deep dive on the root causes of regional migration and related recommendations, read this excellent report from the Migration Policy Institute, the U.N. World Food Programme and the Civic Data Design Lab at MIT).
- As Agencia EFE reported [translation by America’s Voice], a coalition including Alianza Américas, CLINIC, and other immigrant advocacy groups issued a statement noting, “We reiterate the call for a new TPS designation for Honduras for 18 months … Honduras cannot deal with the instability that accompanies a return of up to 400,000 citizens. Nor can it face the reduction of remittances (from emigrants) that now make up 24% of its gross domestic product.”
- Yanira Arias, National Campaigns Manager of Alianza Americas, said: “TPS has benefited the lives of thousands of Honduran households, both in the U.S. and in Honduras, and those protected by TPS continue to contribute to the economic, social, and cultural development of the United States. We urge President Biden and Vice President Harris to provide a new TPS designation for Honduras, an important step to uphold humanitarian protections for our friends and neighbors.”
- The National TPS Alliance stated, “As Hondurans continue to escape unstable conditions left behind by corrupt governments, ongoing poverty, violence, & recent natural catastrophes, this administration must do more! We need TPS Re-designations for Honduras & Central America!”
- Earlier this month, 33 Democratic Senators, led by Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), signed a letter urging President Biden to grant TPS designations for four Central American nations. The letter noted that TPS redesignations for Central America would “uphold humanitarian protections, safeguard U.S. national security interests, and defend American families.”
- As Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice stated, “Expanding TPS for Honduras and other Central American countries would protect immigrants already living, working, and paying taxes in the U.S. and should be a core component of a regional approach that integrates effective border management, a fair and efficient asylum process, expanded legal channels, regional cooperation on safe haven and integration and a concerted effort against smuggling. Combined, these would signal a genuine commitment to alleviating the root causes forcing so many Central Americans to flee their countries. The Biden-Harris administration has an opportunity to change the paradigm and actually get results that lead to greater political and economic stability in the region while helping the U.S. address critical labor shortages and tamp down inflation in our own economy. They have the tools, but the Biden-Harris team needs the will to use their executive authority to deliver important progress that would strengthen our economy and stabilize the region.”