Bipartisan Letter From Congress Calls On Biden Administration To Designate TPS For Central American Countries

May 24, 2022

Yesterday, a bipartisan group of 84 Members of Congress sent a letter to President Biden, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

They urged the administration to designate Guatemala and redesignate El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

The letter, organized by Reps. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and Harlem’s Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), includes the following key excerpts (see letter in full here):

“The pressures of the November 2020 hurricanes compounded with the long-term effects of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic have worsened food insecurity and violence in countries in Central America.  Hurricanes Eta and Iota left over 9.3 million people,  including 3.5 million children, affected and forced to leave their home communities. The hurricanes also left long-lasting damage by destroying key healthcare, education, and other infrastructure essential to everyday lives. Almost a year later, millions in Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador still lacked access to humanitarian assistance, housing, and basic services. […]”

“We believe that conditions on the ground in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua constitute “extraordinary and temporary conditions” that prevent nationals from safely returning. These countries have been dealing with the aftermath of such events for years and as conditions continue to worsen and new challenges arise, the United States should provide temporary protection and refuge. Furthermore, these designations would provide the U.S. government with an important tool to address the root causes of migration from Central American countries by helping increase the flow of remittances and supporting government efforts to address in-country conditions without the additional tax of a large influx of individuals forced to return home. The designation would likely protect nearly 1.5 million migrants currently in the United States, providing immediate relief to these individuals and their families. We ask that these TPS designations be paired with a robust and comprehensive messaging campaign that offers clear instructions regarding eligibility and application procedures, as to prevent confusion and mass migration that occurred after the May 2021 Haiti TPS designation.”

According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice, “These Members of Congress are right: the White House should prioritize executive branch actions to deliver important progress and announce TPS designations and redesignations for countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The President and his team should find ways to aggressively use existing law to protect immigrants already working and living in this country by designating TPS for other nations that qualify under the statute. TPS is an important tool to stabilize families and communities in the United States, but it also helps stabilize the countries from which immigrants continue to come. It helps reduce pressures that force people to migrate, which serves the interests of both the United States and immigrant families. We remain committed to working with and, when necessary, pushing the Biden administration to make meaningful progress on immigration by continuing to advance U.S. interests and values.”

Photo credit: Adriano Espaillat.

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