2019 Honoree: José A. Palma
José Palma is co-founder of the Massachusetts TPS Committee, Coordinator of the National TPS Alliance, and the most prominent voice for Temporary Protected Status holders in America today.
Born in Usulután, El Salvador, to parents who had lost everything in the civil war, he came to the U.S. in 1998. Hurricane Mitch struck El Salvador that year, and a devastating earthquake followed in 2001. Recognizing how unbearable conditions had become, the U.S. government granted TPS to Salvadorans.
Mr. Palma was 22. Soon after, he moved to Massachusetts with his wife, Maira. Every 18 months, their TPS was renewed, and they grew deeper roots in the U.S. They now have four children, all U.S. citizens. He graduated from North Shore Community College, with distinction, and got involved in advocacy through the Student Immigrant Movement and Centro Presente. He served as political and organizing director for Neighbor-To-Neighbor from 2013 to 2016. He was a paralegal at Justice At Work, a legal firm specializing in worker rights, when the Trump administration began to phase out TPS.
Determined to lead the fight for their own future, Mr. Palma and fellow TPS holders formed the Massachusetts TPS Committee and joined advocates from across the U.S. in the National TPS Alliance. Since then, they have worked tirelessly to protect TPS holders through litigation, public outreach, grassroots organizing, and intensive advocacy at the state and federal levels
“The social fabric of the United States of America is made up of workers, teachers, scientists, business owners, families and more – this is who TPS holders are,” Mr. Palma testified before the House Judiciary Committee in March. “TPS holders and our families genuinely love this country, our home, and we have contributed and rooted in our communities for many years. Our lives are not temporary. Our lives are very real.”
We wholeheartedly agree. We are proud to support the TPS Committee and to honor José Palma for his extraordinary leadership at Give Liberty a Hand 2019.