Immigrants and advocates are urging the Biden administration
to grant Central Americans who have fled their countries due to poverty
, violence, and devastating hurricanes
protection from deportation.
Immigrant rights organizations Alianza Americas and Presente.org urged President Joe Biden
on Thursday to grant four Central American countries — Guatemala
, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras — a new temporary protected status
designation, which would allow immigrants from those countries to live and work
legally in the United States
for a limited time.
Some immigrants from the latter three countries already have existing TPS status, which is generally granted to refugees
fleeing war or disaster until it is safe to return to their home countries; however, it only lasts until October, and Guatemalans have no such protection. Immigrant groups are calling for a new designation — rather than an extension or renewal of existing ones — to allow new applicants from Guatemala.
Central Americans have not only had to deal
with the hardships of the COVID-19
crisis in the last year, but the region has also been severely impacted by deadly hurricanes Eta and Iota last fall, on top of long-term crises such as high rates of poverty and violence.
Approximately 195,000 Salvadorans, 57,000 Hondurans, and 2,500 Nicaraguans currently have temporary protected status in the United States.
Thousands of immigrants from those countries and Guatemala may face deportation to the countries from which they fled due to economic hardship, violence, or climate change
if a new designation is not established.
“I am requesting TPS status from President Biden so that we can work with dignity without fear of deportation,” Ana Ortiz, an undocumented domestic worker from El Salvador, said in Spanish. The mother of two fled El Salvador due to intimate partner violence and poverty.
NEW TPS for Central American nationals is now available! Join @PresenteOrg and @ALIANZAAMERICAS in calling on @POTUS and @SecMayorkas to grant a new TPS designation to Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala! https://t.co/IRlsKFzZYI
#TPSJustice — Chispa Florida
(@ChispaFlorida) June 3, 2021
Requests for comment were not immediately responded to by the White House
or the Department of Homeland Security
Tens of thousands of Haitians in the United States were granted temporary protected status by the Biden administration last month, allowing them to live and work legally in the country for at least another year and a half.
advocates applauded the action and urged Biden to do the same for Central Americans during a press conference on Thursday.
Last November, two powerful hurricanes, Eta and Iota, slammed into Central America, killing dozens in mudslides in Guatemala, destroying tens of thousands of homes across the region, and displacing half a million people
Climate change has exacerbated existing issues in the region, such as El Salvador, which has one of the world's highest homicide rates.
Alexandra Yulieth Mejia, a 29-year-old Honduran single mother of two, described fleeing Honduras due to poverty after the devastation of Hurricane Eta. One of her daughters was experiencing stomach pain that doctors in her country couldn't treat.
“It’s a matter of life and death
,” Mejia said of obtaining TPS, which would allow her to work legally, send money
to her grandmother in Honduras, who raised her and suffers from health
issues, and study to become a nurse.
Advocates have pointed out that temporary protected status is just that — temporary — and that it must be renewed on a regular basis for immigrants to remain protected from deportation, and they are urging Congress
to create a path for all undocumented immigrants in the United States to obtain permanent residency.