PRESS STATEMENTTuesday, November 21, 2017Contact: Jacob Weinberg | Jacob@tnimmigrant.org
TIRRC Condemns Termination of TPS, Calls on Congress to Act NASHVILLE - Last night, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) terminated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 50,000 Haitians, giving community members until July 2019 to prepare to return to Haiti. Deporting 50,000 people to Haiti will have disastrous and destabilizing effects on Haiti as the country struggles to recover from a devastating earthquake, a series of hurricanes, and a cholera epidemic. Rather than make a determination on the extension of TPS for Haiti based on country conditions, the Trump administration instead is continuing their agenda of mass deportations.This decision on Haiti follows a termination earlier this year of TPS for 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 bills have been introduced in Congress which would extend protections and allow current TPS holders from Central America and Haiti 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 Haitians who are unable to return home the opportunity to work hard and build their lives here.As Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Corker knows well the ongoing struggles to rebuild Haiti after several natural disasters. To forcibly return 50,000 people under these conditions is dangerous and potentially destabilizing. Senator Corker should lead efforts to quickly restore protections and mitigate the devastation of this decision."The following is a quote from Pastor Mario Clerjeune of the Haitian Ministry Theophile Church in Christ in East Nashville: "TPS has given many of our brothers and sisters a new life. Deporting members of our community would do tremendous harm and needlessly separate families. We will urge Congress to pass a legislative solution, and we will pray for them find the compassion in their hearts to do the right thing."
- 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.