PRESS STATEMENTMonday, January 8th, 2018Contact: Jacob Weinberg | Jacob@tnimmigrant.org
TIRRC Condemns Termination of TPS, Calls on Congress to Act NASHVILLE - Today, new Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen terminated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 200,000 El Salvadorans, giving community members until September 9, 2019 to prepare to return to El Salvador.The decision to revoke the legal status of 200,000 people and deporting them back to El Salvador will have disastrous and destabilizing effects on the country and put lives at risk. The reality is that El Salvador cannot handle the return of hundreds of thousands of its citizens given the country’s violence, narcotics trafficking and inability of its weak government institutions to accommodate a massive influx of people. That’s one of the reason Salvadoran President Salvador Sánchez requested the U.S. extend TPS for Salvadorans in the U.S.This decision on El Salvador follows a termination earlier this year of TPS for Haitian, Nicaraguan and Sudanese nationals and the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.It is now up to Congress to pass legislation that protects TPS holders from being deported to countries in no condition to safely receive them. Several bi-partisan bills have been introduced in Congress which would extend protections and allow TPS holders to continue to remain in the U.S. lawfully. The following is a quote from Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus, Policy Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC):"The cruel and reckless termination of TPS shows the lengths the Trump administration is willing to go to uproot and deport immigrant families. TPS has been a lifesaving program that's provided Salvadorans who are unable to return to their country the opportunity to work hard and build their lives here. In the nearly two decades of having TPS, they've started businesses, raised their families, and made their home here."The following is a quote from Reina Arevalo, Salvadoran TPS holder, proprietor, and owner of Pupuseria Reina La Bendicion, a restaurant in Nashville: "TPS has allowed me to work. I started my restaurant six years ago and now have five employees. It seats 50 people and it still gets packed. My dream was to open another restaurant in a couple of years, after I paid off more of the mortgage on my home. The idea of moving back to El Salvador scares me; it can be very dangerous. But I am most afraid of being separated from my daughter and two grandkids. I would hate to not see them grow up.”
- In creating the TPS program through the Immigration Act of 1990, the U.S. government made a promise to act as a haven for foreign nationals already in the country who could not return to their home countries safely, whether because of civil war, environmental disaster, or political unrest.
- 10 countries currently have TPS designation. More than 90% of TPS holders are from El Salvador, Haiti, or Honduras. For more information on TPS countries, click here.
- Tennessee is home to an estimated 3,400 TPS holders from El Salvador, Haiti, and Honduras. Many have been living lawfully in the U.S. for decades; they have started businesses, raised families, and established roots here. To suddenly revoke their status and threaten them with deportation is needlessly cruel.
- 3,200 US-born Tennessean children have parents with TPS. Ending TPS will cost Tennessee $123.3 million, and the U.S. $164 billion, in GDP annually. For more information on TPS holders in Tennessee, click here.
- TPS was originally granted to Haitians in 2010, following a devastating earthquake that cost the country 120 percent of its GDP, destroying 300,000 buildings in Port-au-Prince alone. The U.S. government rightly deemed that it was unsafe for Haitians in the U.S. to return to their country at that time, granting them TPS until conditions improved.
- Three recent and separate reports by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., the New York University School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Service each vividly describe the ongoing struggles to rebuild Haiti and make it clear that the country is in no condition to receive to tens of thousands of nationals.
- TPS holders are thoroughly vetted by our government every time they apply for renewal of their status, they contribute taxes, they own businesses, and they pay mortgages. They are the parents of 275,000 U.S.-born children around the country. The average TPS holder has lived in the U.S. for more than 19 years.
TIRRC is a statewide, immigrant and refugee-led collaboration whose mission is to empower immigrants and refugees throughout Tennessee to develop a unified voice, defend their rights, and create an atmosphere in which they are recognized as positive contributors to the state. Since its founding in 2001, TIRRC has worked to develop immigrant leadership, build the capacity of its immigrant-led member organizations, help immigrant community members understand and engage in the civic process, and educate the public about policies that would better promote integration of new immigrants and facilitate their full participation in US society. In just a few years TIRRC has grown from a grassroots network of community leaders into one of the most diverse and effective coalitions of its kind, a model for emerging immigrant rights organizations in the Southeast and throughout the United States.