Today, more than 250,000 TPSeanos from Central American are at risk of losing their protected status. In the next five months, the Trump administration will be making decisions on the future of temporary protected statues, or TPS, designations for the Central American countries. There is no official position by the administration with respect to the future of TPS designation for these countries, but recent remarks by senior officials do not bode well for the continued long-term future of protected status for these countries, even though major violence and human rights violations associated with civil strife in their home countries make it unsafe for them to return.
TPS beneficiaries are integral members of our communities. According to a July 2017 report by the Center for Migration Studies (CMS), TPS beneficiaries from the three largest TPS countries by population have an estimated 273,000 U.S.-born children, and 10% of Salvadoran and 6% Honduran TPS beneficiaries are married to legal residents. The report also finds that 87% of the TPS population from these countries speaks at least some English, and slightly over half speak English well, very well, or only English.
In the month headed into Congress’s August recess, much of the attention in the immigration space has been correctly focused on protecting the DACA policy that shields nearly 800,000 youth from deportation, pushing back on the Trump budget proposal, which would take funding for deportations to unprecedented levels, and picking up the pieces from the painful effects and consequences of the ramped-up interior enforcement on predominantly Latino immigrant families. Not to be lost in the shuffle, however, is another very important issue percolating in the not-too-distant background. Within the next six months, the Trump administration will be making decisions on the future of temporary protected status (TPS) designations that could impact over a quarter of a million Latinos from Central America, some of whom have been residing in the United States for nearly 20 years.
TPS is a humanitarian tool established by legislation giving the executive branch a way to provide temporary status to some of the most vulnerable populations in the country. Under TPS, people already residing in the United States may be designated for protection due to an ongoing armed conflict, natural disaster, or presence of extraordinary and temporary condition in their country of origin. TPS beneficiaries are eligible to work legally in the country and may apply to travel abroad for so long as the U.S. government determines that protected status continues to be warranted—a decision that is typically assessed 18 months after an initial designation or a preceding TPS extension.
Yesterday, Congresswomen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R–Fla) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D–Calif.) co-introduced the “DREAM Act” in the House of Representatives. The bill would allow young immigrants brought to the country as small children the opportunity to earn permanent residency and ultimately American citizenship. Today, many DREAMers are shielded under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, but the Trump White House has indicated the policy stands on shaky ground, causing many of these young people to live in fear of deportation. A Senate version of the bill was introduced last week by Senators Dick Durbin (D–Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.).
“This bipartisan effort lead by Representatives Ros-Lehtinen and Roybal-Allard to help young DREAMers remain in the country they love and have contributed to with their talents and hard work, should be applauded. At perhaps the most partisan and politically divisive time in modern history, it is encouraging to see members of both parties working together to do what is right by these young people and what’s in the best interests of our country,” said UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía. “DACA youth are an integral part of our communities—they are doctors, students, engineers and educators, and their contributions are impactful, in fact, estimates show that ending DACA would result in an estimated GDP loss of $433.4 billion over the next 10 years.”
On July 20, 2017, Senators Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act of 2017. This is the latest iteration of this important piece of legislation, which has historically enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress. UnidosUS is encouraged by this most recent effort to reach across the aisle and once again attempt a meaningful, bipartisan solution for the many DREAMers living in our communities and making significant contributions to our nation.
The news comes at an important time. Last week we wrote about renewed threats to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy following a meeting between the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the administration’s top immigration enforcer, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. The meeting followed a letter sent by 10 attorneys general threatening to present a legal challenge to DACA unless the administration takes steps to unwind the policy on their own accord. The Trump administration has until September 5 to decide on how it will respond.
NCLR Is Officially UnidosUS: This week, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization, announced it will change its name to UnidosUS. The announcement was made at the close of its Annual Conference, where thousands of national and community leaders gathered for this significant moment in the organization’s 49-year history. “Unidos” is the Spanish-language word for “united;” the new brand spotlights the organization’s commitment to uniting all communities across the United States, reflects its history and role in uniting diverse communities, and reinforces Latinos’ role as a unifying force.
UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía stated, “we are excited to announce that we are now UnidosUS. As we have over the course of the past 49 years, we will continue embracing change and ensuring that our organization is evolving and addressing the critical needs of the Latino community. In unity there is strength, and in strength there is power. Unidos is a call to action for all Latinos, but also signals a message for others to join us and to come together united in the best interest of the country and all Americans.” Make sure to visit our website at unidosus.org and check out a video from Janet below: