MassLive: In Massachusetts, 6,000 Salvadoran TPS holders get another year to live in the U.S.

October 29, 2019
In The News

An estimated 6,000 Salvadorans in Massachusetts will be allowed to remain in the U.S. another year as a federal class-action lawsuit and legislation determine their future in this country.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security confirmed in a statement Monday that Salvadorans with Temporary Protected Status had their protections extended another year. The extension affects an estimated 200,000 Salvadorans with TPS, a program that offers safe haven and work permits to foreigners whose countries face natural disasters, civil strife or other calamities.

The DHS statement was part of a larger announcement announcing an information sharing agreement between the U.S. and El Salvador.

“It’s a little confusing, but it brings a little relief," Jose Palma, national coordinator for the National TPS Alliance said of the announcement. “At least it secures another year of protections.”

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TPS holders have yet to hear from judges reviewing a class-action lawsuit challenging the end of the program for recipients of El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held a hearing in August after the federal government appealed a preliminary injunction barring the deportation of these TPS holders.

In Monday’s announcement, DHS said it would also provide TPS recipients from El Salvador another year after TPS-related lawsuits end to return to their home country.

The extension is designed to give “additional time for El Salvadorans with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to repatriate,” DHS wrote. But TPS holders pushing for a pathway to citizenship are hopeful that their litigation and legislation pushing for permanent legal status pans out.

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The hearing comes after the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California granted a preliminary injunction blocking the deportation of more than 300,000 foreign nationals. The government appealed the injunction, bringing the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The U.S. House passed the American Dream and Promise Act earlier this year, which among other things would offer green card status to immigrants with TPS and Deferred Enforced Departure. The Senate hasn’t taken up the bill.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, a Boston Democrat, called on the Senate to move forward with the bill.

“This temporary extension of the Salvadoran community does not guarantee residency, and we cannot entrust this xenophobic administration to uphold the humanity of our immigrant neighbors," Pressley said.

Roxana Rivera, vice president of 32BJ SEIU, issued a statement saying the agreement brings relief but isn’t a permanent solution either.

“A pathway to permanent residency must be found for recipients of TPS from El Salvador, and also for the tens of thousands of other TPS recipients from Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti, Nepal and other countries, all of whom the Trump administration has treated mercilessly in its pursuit to restrict all forms of immigration,” Rivera said.

TPS was born out of the Immigration Act of 1990, granting protections to eligible foreigners two years at a time. Eligible foreigners have to pass background checks and pay a fee, which is now about $500, every time they apply.

El Salvador received resignation briefly in 1990 for its civil war and again in 2001 after a devastating earthquake and aftershocks rocked the country. Since 2001, recipients from El Salvador have renewed multiple times, building new lives in the United States and raising U.S.-born children.

Ten countries are currently designated for TPS: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The Trump administration is fighting class-action lawsuits filed after trying to end the program for six of those countries.

Critics argue that recipients have taken advantage of a program designed to offer temporary help, using it as de facto amnesty. But many TPS holders and advocates supporting them argue their countries struggle with problems stemming from the original crises and that they now have ties to the country they cannot easily sever. The Center for Migration Studies estimates that 273,000 U.S.-citizen children have parents who are TPS holders.

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