The program known as Temporary Protected Status is a form of humanitarian relief, offered to nationals of countries struggling with the aftermath of war, natural disasters or other humanitarian crises where conditions make it difficult for people to return safely. Last week, the Department of Homeland Security told 57,000 Hondurans, living legally in the country, that they must return to Honduras by January 2020 or face deportation. This follows earlier decisions targeting 260,000 Salvadorans, 59,000 Haitians and smaller numbers from Nicaragua, Liberia and Nepal.
Since the 1990s previous administrations of both parties have renewed the authorization as long as conditions in their home countries remain dangerous. For example, Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world and its government has said it cannot safely take back the Hondurans in TPS. Most beneficiaries have lived in the US for up to two decades, forming families, building careers, purchasing homes and making a life for themselves. They work, pay taxes and do not receive social services.
The temporary nature of the original program makes TPS an easy target for the anti-immigrant activists in the Trump administration. Trump’s plan to dismantle TPS, if carried out, would force nearly 400,000 individuals to leave the US in the near future and head back to countries that continue to face huge challenges including gang violence, desperate poverty and civil unrest.
In the face of Trump’s failure to deliver on the vast majority of campaign promises, and in order to divert attention from his mounting legal challenges as well as the utter chaos, incompetence and ethical failures of his cabinet, the administration continues to seek out executive actions that deliver on the racist and xenophobic rhetoric that appealed to his base. The rhetoric does not reflect reality. This program is a positive response to real humanitarian problems in countries with strife and social chaos, almost all of which have experienced significant US meddling in their internal affairs over decades, and in some cases, centuries.
Call To Action
Speak up on behalf of the TPS beneficiaries who are living honorable lives in communities across the US. Let your senators and representatives know that you oppose Trump’s plan to continue to dismantle immigration policies that allow hard working individuals and families to build their lives and contribute to our communities. While we recognize that the program began as a temporary response to war and natural disaster, it is important to treat these families humanely. If they cannot safely return to their countries then we should make provisions to incorporate them fully into the communities where they have lived for the past two decades. Ask your representatives to support this important humanitarian principle and to not deport TPS people.