The Trump Administration is taking yet another swipe at hard-working and tax-paying immigrants and their families. Here’s what’s happening this time.
There are about 300,000 immigrants from Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti and El Salvador living in the United States under a program called “Temporary Protected Status” (TPS). The TPS program allows foreign nationals to live and work in the United States for up to 18 months in the event of a national emergency back home, like civil unrest or a natural disaster.
55,000 TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti live in California, and these families include 54,700 American citizen children who are fully integrated economically and socially into their communities.
Now, these families’ futures are in jeopardy.
On November 6th, the Acting Homeland Security Secretary, Elaine Duke, announced that the TPS designation for Nicaraguans will not be renewed. It is estimated this will affect around 2,500 hard-working Nicaraguans, many of whom now call the United States home. And on November 20, Duke announced that Haitians’ TPS designation will expire, effective in July 2019. This will impact over 50,000 Haitians, whose country has been hit by two hurricanes and a public health crisis in the six months since their TPS designation was last renewed.
Because it often takes decades for less developed countries to rebuild after national emergencies, TPS renewals have been consistently approved by Democratic and Republican presidents. By deporting these immigrants to countries that are still unstable, the federal government would be sending them to homes that may have been destroyed, damaged, or become entirely unrecognizable in the time since disaster or unrest hit.
In the meantime, immigrants from these countries have become integrated into society, paying taxes and even helping to rebuild after natural disasters strike the U.S. In California alone, losing TPS immigrants means losing $2.7 billion from our annual GDP.
Hondurans were given a short-term six-month reprieve in early November while the U.S. Department of Homeland Security collects more information to make a definitive decision on their fate next year. Meanwhile, roughly 195,000 Salvadorans face a decision on their designation before January 8th.
The decisions on Salvadoran and Honduran TPS holders may be made by the next Homeland Security Secretary. President Trump nominated Kirstjen Nielsen, who is likely to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate within the next few weeks. Her views on TPS are still unknown.
Ending TPS for any of these populations runs contrary to California values. A federal decision to deport them would be inhumane and cruel.