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Sen. Menendez & Rep. Watson Coleman Join New Jersey TPS Holders on Frontlines Combating Coronavirus

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A recording of the call is available here

 Earlier today Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) joined Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders who are working on the frontlines of the Coronavirus pandemic in New Jersey to discuss their critical role in protecting New Jersey communities during this crisis, even as the Trump administration is trying to deport them. 

Sen. Menendez and Rep. Watson Coleman have been fighting for a permanent solution to protect TPS holders and will discuss the urgency for Congress to act in the face of potential senseless deportations.

In New Jersey 7,500 TPS holders are working in occupations at the forefront of the COVID-19 response and 11,600 TPS holders are working in health care occupations alone nationwide.

“So much of the burden from the pandemic is falling on essential workers and many of them are TPS holders, who risk their lives to protect us,” said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ). “They comfort the dying and help the sick and do this without the proper protection they need. TPS holders are the heroes of the crisis. Regardless of their place of birth these individuals undoubtedly represent the best of this country. TPS holders are risking their lives during COVID 19 but they are in the crosshairs as they risk their lives, their permanent status and legal protections. They are fighting the pandemic while also fighting Trump. It is time for the administration to treat them as essential workers instead of expendable and stop the attacks on TPS holders and lift the cloud of gloom over them. The health of the nation must come before the President’s anti-immigrant fight.”

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) said, “Thank you to the essential TPS workers that are here and sharing their stories, and Sen. Menendez for his leadership on this issue. “Amen!” If there’s anything positive that comes out of this pandemic, it’s the realization that our essential workers bring immense value to our communities and are the ones who keep us going. From truck drivers to hospital care workers— these are the people, who are mostly people of color, especially immigrants, who are making homes here. The idea that we would strip people like Leroy and Beatriz of their life here when it is most dangerous for their own health and the health of others is inherently wrong. The desire to take immigrants out in order to make America great is something we cannot tolerate. I’m proud to be working to make sure all of our frontline workers get the protections and pay they deserve— and that they maintain the ability to work here— because they are our heroes. We need leaders like Sen. McConnell to grant these community members the frontline protections they deserve, and a pathway to citizenship as well.”

Leroy, a truck driver and Haitian TPS Holder from Maplewood, NJ, said, “I rely on TPS to be able to work and support my family. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to survive. I also provide an essential service as a truck driver and need TPS to be able to drive. TPS holders like myself have been in this country a long time, have U.S. citizen children and support our communities. Losing TPS would cost me my life. We need permanent protections.”

“As a TPS recipient I am asking Senator Bob Menendez and Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman to use their leadership to advocate in Washington DC on behalf of TPS beneficiaries and their families. Also, to protect children who were born in New Jersey and their parents who are TPS beneficiaries,” said Beatriz Rodriguez, a Salvadoran TPS holder and domestic worker/ community organizer at Community Center CEUS. “TPS recipients are essential members of our community. Many of us are on the frontlines in this pandemic: we are working in hospitals, apartment buildings, supermarkets, caring for the elderly. We are also business owners. We are all contributing to the US economy. TPS holders are in a state of emergency, because our current status will end in January 2021. This is why we need legislation that leads us to permanent residency. Since I came to the US from El Salvador in 1991, I have resided in New Jersey. New Jersey has been my home, a place where I found economic and social stability. I have had stability thanks to TPS. My husband, also a TPS holder, found a job and thanks to his immigration status, he was able to access a job that provided health insurance. In the same year, I was diagnosed with cancer and I received treatment. Thanks to my husband’s medical insurance, and thanks to TPS, my life was saved. That is what TPS is for me. It saved my life. I can’t imagine living without my TPS status. What TPS holders need right now is relief and a path to permanent residency. ”

Ana Salgado, Paralegal at CEUS, said, “At CEUS we have provided legal services to immigrant communities locally here in New Jersey. We have worked pro bono to represent tps holders and we have been supporting them for over 20 years. We are really concerned for the future of the TPS program and we need the support of our elected officials to fight to continue TPS or help TPS holders get permanent status.”

Gloria Blanco, Advocacy & Administration, Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center said, “TPS and DACA recipients have grown up in this country; which is also our home. The place where we have invested everything we have. This country is all we know. Both programs have been threatened and it keeps causing unnecessary fear and uncertainty. Both DACA and TPS recipients need to keep working together to accomplish our ultimate goal, a path to Citizenship.”

Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communications for America’s Voice, said “As we all know, Trump has made immigration and excluding immigrants his signature issue from the day he descended the gold escalator in New York City in 2015 to announce his candidacy by deeming most Mexican immigrants murders and rapists. Since then he has been relentless in restricting legal immigration and trying to end the asylum and refugee systems. He put children and families and those seeking safety in harm’s way. And he’s tried taking away the ability of long term, deeply rooted immigrants to work and live in the US legally by trying to end both the DACA program and restricting and ending the TPS program. On TPS, we are still awaiting a ruling in the 9th circuit Ramos case. The challenge is how Trump is ending the TPS program and it appears that even if a negative ruling is issued today, TPS holders would be safe until early next year after inauguration day. But, TPS holders are still in legal limbo, they’re unsure if their lives here in the US, which for some spans decades, can continue.”