Key Members of Congress Move to Preserve TPS, Protect Immigrants
Measure Comes with President Trump’s Decision on Program Pending
Washington, D.C. -- With concerns mounting among immigrant communities about the Trump Administration’s immigration policies, Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) has introduced legislation to protect from deportation individuals who currently receive Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).
In recent weeks, there has been increasing fear that the Trump Administration will terminate TPS for individuals from certain countries such as El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua, potentially resulting in their deportation. Velázquez’s bill would ensure individuals who have resided in the U.S. under these programs for a period of three years can remain in the country and pursue a path to naturalization. The legislation was cosponsored by House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) and Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Karen Bass (D-CA).
“Those in the TPS program are some of our most vulnerable neighbors who have fled natural disasters and political conflict at great personal risk,” said Velázquez. “It would be inhumane to force these families and individuals who have built lives in the U.S. to abruptly leave.”
“These individuals deserve protection and the ability to stay in the United States. They’ve passed numerous extensive background checks and have a strong history of contributing to our communities. Democrats will not stop fighting until our most vulnerable immigrants, such as these individuals, DREAMers, and their families, have security in the U.S.,” said House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY).
“I am deeply troubled that the President may remove protected legal status for Salvadorans, Hondurans, Haitians and other TPS beneficiaries escaping conflict and natural disasters in their home countries. The President would be forcing families, many who have lived in the U.S. for nearly 20 years and have made significant contributions to the U.S. economy, to leave the country or work here unlawfully. Many of their children—nearly 275,000 of them—have known no other home than the United States. Deporting them is neither sensible nor compassionate. Creating a pathway to permanent, lawful residency for these individuals is the right thing to do,” said Rep. Ted W. Lieu (D-CA)
“It would be incredibly hypocritical to turn our backs on people from Somalia and Sudan, which are experiencing extreme food insecurity, or people from South Sudan, the youngest country on Earth that the U.S. has continued to support, by eliminating the TPS program. The entire reason we have this program is to help protect immigrants from ills in their home country, which can range from famine to civil war. The proposed crack down on recipients of the Temporary Protected Status program would not only cause a hit to the economy, but also in some cases, cost some recipients their lives. We have a moral obligation to protect these families and I call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join us in supporting this important piece of legislation,” said Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA)
TPS is a form of safe haven for people fleeing dangerous situations, but who are not legally considered refugees. Many have been concerned that the Trump Administration could change the criteria by which people are eligible for TPS and order those currently enrolled in the initiative to return to their country of origin.
A recent study suggests that 80.3% of TPS holders from Central America pay taxes, including 79.3% of people who are self-employed. In that study, the average TPS holder contributed funds to social security for 15.4 years. A case study suggests that deportation of 300,000 TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti would cost the U.S. government over $3 billion.
“Not only is it morally appropriate to ensure TPS recipients can remain, it is also good fiscal and economic policy,” Velázquez added.
The legislation was endorsed by a wide range of labor, immigration and other advocacy groups.
Patricia Abrego, member of Make the Road New York and TPS beneficiary on Long Island, said: “The American Promise Act gives me and my family hope in this moment of deep uncertainty. We have lived in this country with TPS for 18 years after fleeing El Salvador. Our lives are here in this country, and going back to El Salvador would be a likely death sentence given the conditions there right now. My family is grateful to Rep. Velázquez for introducing this bill, which recognizes that we are an integral part of our community and that we deserve protection and the ability to adjust our status and remain in this country.”
Ana Maria Archila, Co-Executive Director of the Center for Popular Democracy said, “TPS recipients came to this country fleeing natural disasters and civil wars. TPS enabled them to build new lives in the United States, and now they call this country home. They are parents and grandparents, business owners and community leaders. But now they face the possibility of their lives being upended, their families torn apart. We are calling on Congress to take immediate action and pass the American Promise Act to avoid this unnecessary crisis and to formalize what these individuals are: permanent residents of the United States.”
Oscar Chacon, Executive director of Alianza Americas said, “Many TPS & DED holders have lived in the United States for decades, working hard, building businesses, buying homes, and raising families. We applaud Rep. Velázquez for championing this legislation that finally recognizes and formalizes what these TPS and DED holders are—permanent residents of the United States—and call on her colleagues in Congress to follow her leadership in honoring these individuals’ many contributions to our communities.”
"Church World Service stands with the approximately 330,000 TPS holders in the United States and calls on our elected leaders for a path forward. We need Congress to enact a legislative solution that protects TPS holders from being uprooted from their communities and being separated from their families. Representative Velazquez’s American Promise Act does just that. TPS holders take care of our children, build our houses, and serve us our food. They are our neighbors. Failing to protect our community members is callous. CWS will continue to stand for the American values of hospitality, generosity, and compassion for TPS holders,” said Rev. John L. McCullough the President and CEO of CWS.
“Today, there are over 300,000 Honduran, Nicaraguan, Haitian, and Salvadoran TPS holders who are at risk of losing their protected status, many of which have resided in the U.S. legally for almost two decades. They are vital members of our communities, and have contributed significantly to our Nation’s economy. TPS beneficiaries are also some of the most vulnerable populations in the U.S, having been displaced by war, natural disasters and other extraordinary events in their home countries that persist today. UnidosUS is committed to working toward fair and commonsense administrative and legislative solutions and this bill advances those efforts and is in line with our fundamental values of fairness and the need to find to permanent solution,” said Clarissa Martinez de Castro, Deputy Vice President, Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation, UnidosUS.
"This is one of the most important bills that has been introduced in Congress this year," said SEIU Executive Vice President Rocio Saenz. "Hundreds of thousands of people with TPS are now living precariously, fearful that they may lose their jobs and be ordered to leave the United States after living here legally, peacefully and productively for years. These decent people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and the American Promise Act would do that. SEIU members will continue to make their voices heard until Congress acts."
Jose Calderon, President, Hispanic Federation stated: “For two decades, the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) has offered shelter to persons fleeing war or natural disaster. Hondurans and Salvadorans, Haitians and Nicaraguans are just some of the people who we have welcomed into the United States to shield them from the devastation afflicting their homelands. The Trump Administration's calls to end the TPS program are yet another assault on immigrants and our tradition as a beacon of hope for those in harm's way. TPS holders regularly pass stringent background checks, they are parents to American citizens, and contribute to the strength of the US economy and the diversity of our society. Ending TPS will not make us richer or safer; it will diminish us. We applaud Representative Velasquez for introducing The American Promise Act (APA). The APA will protect the 300,000 TPS recipients who reside in the United States legally. We urge Congress to act quickly and vote for its passage.”