U.S. Organizations to Ambassador Manes: Defend Temporary Protected Status
On November 16, CISPES joined sister organizations working to advance human rights, democracy, and social justice in El Salvador to call on the Trump Administration to renew Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti and all other countries currently protected under the program. TPS is a long-standing immigration policy under which the U.S. government can grant renewable work permits to immigrants from countries experiencing war, the aftermath of natural disasters, or other emergencies. The majority of the current beneficiaries are from El Salvador, which received TPS in 2001.
During a press conference in San Salvador, representatives from the SHARE Foundation, U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities, Voices on the Border and the Center for Exchange and Solidarity (CIS), shared the letter they delivered to the U.S. Embassy, which calls on the U.S. government to create a pathway to citizenship for current and former recipients of TPS, those affected by the recent cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Central American Minors (CAM) program and the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants that have made the United States their home. (Read the letter here).
In recent months, the Department of Homeland Security has sent shockwaves through Central America and the Caribbean, granting only six month renewal of TPS for nearly 69,000 people from Haiti and, most recently, cancelling TPS altogether for Nicaragua. DHS must announce its decision regarding renewal for over 260,000 immigrants from El Salvador on or before January 5, 2018.
In their comments to the press, the solidarity organizations underscored how disastrous ending TPS would be, not only for immigrants and their families but also for their countries of origin, echoing the sentiment of many Members of Congress. As 116 members of the House of Representatives wrote in a September letter to Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke, “The potential return of hundreds of thousands of former TPS holders to Honduras and El Salvador would likely bring destabilizing consequences throughout the region.”
In recent months, conservative media outlets and officials from the right-wing National Republican Alliance (ARENA) have tried to exploit the population’s fears regarding the Trump Administration’s persecution of migrants and unaccompanied minors, falsely claiming that the potential non-renewal of TPS would be a result of the current leftist government’s support for the democratically-elected government of Venezuela. In reality, countries that have supported the U.S.’s attacks on Venezuela at the Organization of American States, including Mexico and Honduras, are being similarly affected by U.S. immigration policy changes.
In their meeting at the U.S. Embassy on Wednesday, the organizations requested that U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Jean Elizabeth Manes immediately publish a statement clarifying that the Administration’s decisions regarding TPS and other domestic immigration programs have nothing to do with the sovereign domestic or foreign policies of the government of El Salvador or any other impacted nation.
From the public radio to online news and television, the Salvadoran people are now hearing our solidarity and our call to action to our own government to uphold its “moral and legal obligation to protect the lives and well-being of migrant and refugee families.”