Congress must act to right the wrongs of TPS termination

BOSTON, January 8, 2018 – Today the Trump administration announced that it is ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Salvadorans. Effective Sept. 9, 2019, about 200,000 people who have been living and working legally in the U.S. for almost two decades, who have American families, homes and businesses, will be subject to deportation.

Eva Millona on TPS termination for El SalvadorMIRA, the largest coalition advocating for foreign-born people in New England, strongly condemns this decision.

“This is the fourth TPS termination in just four months,” said Executive Director Eva A. Millona. “Given the dire conditions in El Salvador, which the U.S. State Department has warned Americans not to travel to, it is clear that nothing – not natural disasters, not hunger, not rampant violence – is seen as a valid justification anymore for protected status. Our government is perfectly comfortable sending longstanding, law-abiding residents into life-threatening conditions, and their U.S. citizen children as well.”

The State Department describes conditions in El Salvador thus:

El Salvador has one of the highest homicide levels in the world and crimes such as extortion, assault and robbery are common. … Gang activity is widespread in El Salvador. There are thousands of gang members operating in the country, including members of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Eighteenth Street (M18). Gangs (maras) focus on extortion, violent street crime, narcotics and arms trafficking.

“We had expected no better from this administration, given that just before Thanksgiving, they told tens of thousands of Haitians that they had 18 months to return to dire poverty,” Millona added. “They have also shut the doors on tens of thousands of refugees, and they are flagrantly violating the rights of asylum-seekers at the southern border.”

“Still, we cannot let ourselves be numbed by the relentless assaults on human decency,” Millona said. “The termination of TPS for Salvadorans will cause a humanitarian crisis. It will force thousands of mothers and fathers in Massachusetts to choose between exposing their children to kidnapping and gang violence, or breaking up their families to keep them safe. That is outrageous and unforgivable.”

Salvadoran President Salvador Sánchez Cerén had urged the administration to keep TPS in place. Not only do officials fear for deportees’ safety, but the poverty-stricken country relies heavily on remittances from Salvadorans living abroad – in 2016, they accounted for about 17% of GDP.

MIRA and grassroots advocates, led locally by the Massachusetts TPS Committee (Comité TPS de Massachusetts), will continue to fight for justice for Salvadorans, Haitians and all TPS holders. We have strong support from faith communities, mayors and businesses leaders, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who warn that ending TPS will hurt the economy.

 “We believe that the best solution is Congressional action to enable TPS holders to apply for permanent residency,” Millona said. “Multiple bills to achieve that have already been filed in Congress, with bipartisan support. We urge our entire Massachusetts delegation to make passage of this legislation a priority. We have no time to waste.”

Note: There are conflicting estimates of the number of Salvadoran TPS holders in the U.S. and in Massachusetts. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) puts the numbers at 263,282 and 6,058, respectively, but based on in-depth analysis of the data, the Center for American Progress estimates the number of active Salvadoran TPS holders at 195,000, including 5,000 in Massachusetts.