November 09, 2017

Lawmakers Call For Reversal of Administration Decision to Expose Thousands to Dangerous Deportations

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) today to lead a letter from 58 members of the Senate and House, calling on the Trump Administration to reverse its recent decision to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of Nicaragua and Sudan, which will remove their legal protection, tear families apart, and expose them to potential deportation to unsafe situations.

The Department of Homeland Security recently terminated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of Nicaragua and Sudan, removing their legal protection and exposing them to deportation back to dangerous countries. The lawmakers are also calling on the Administration to extend TPS for the remaining eight countries currently designated, including El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti, which comprise more than 90% of current TPS recipients. The TPS program provides safety in the United States to approximately 437,000 people from 10 countries and their families.

“Nearly 275,000 Americans have parents who are TPS recipients from El Salvador, Honduras, or Haiti.  Choosing not to renew longstanding TPS designations will result in these American children’s parents being forced to choose between leaving behind their children or living in the United States illegally and at risk of deportation,” the lawmakers wrote. “[It would also] harm our national security interests by undermining the fragile security in these countries, and negatively impact hundreds of thousands of American children, workers, and employers.”

The letter is signed by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.);

And U.S. Representatives Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Cedric Richmond (D-La.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-Guam), Norma Torres (D-Calif.), Lou Correa (D-Calif.), Adriano Espaillat (D-Calif.), Linda T. Sánchez (D-Calif.), Albio Sires (D-N.J.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), José E. Serrano (D-N.Y.), Dwight Evans (D-Pa.), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Darren Soto (D-Fla.), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), Ruben J. Kihuen (D-Nev.), and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).

Full text of the letter:

November 9, 2017

The Honorable Elaine C. Duke
Acting Secretary
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528

Dear Acting Secretary Duke:

We urge you to reverse your decision to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Nicaragua and Sudan, to extend TPS for the remaining eight nations that are currently designated, and to continue to designate other countries for TPS as warranted by particular conditions. 

TPS provides safety in the United States to approximately 437,000 people from 10 countries and their families.[1]  More than 90 percent of TPS recipients are collectively nationals of three countries: El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti.  The political leadership in each of these three countries has requested that the Trump Administration continue existing TPS designations based on their assessment that their nations lack the capacity to absorb tens of thousands of TPS returnees.[2]  Additionally, remittances transmitted by TPS recipients, who are authorized to work in the U.S., provide a critical boost to their home countries’ fragile economic security. 

On November 6, you announced your decision to terminate TPS for Nicaragua, effective January 5, 2019.  The approximately 5,300 Nicaraguan TPS recipients for whom the U.S. has been home since December 30, 1998 or earlier have been placed in a very difficult situation by this decision, as you have acknowledged.[3]  On September 18, the Department announced the termination of TPS for Sudan, effective November 2, 2018, which will likewise negatively impact approximately 1,040 Sudanese TPS recipients.[4] 

Notwithstanding your decision to terminate TPS for Nicaragua and Sudan, we believe that the conditions in each of the countries currently designated for TPS provide ample statutory justification for extending the designation for each of these countries.  If the Administration disagrees, we urge you to work with Congress to pass legislation providing a pathway to U.S. citizenship for TPS beneficiaries from these countries.  To do otherwise would harm our national security interests by undermining the fragile security in these countries.  It also would negatively impact hundreds of thousands of American children, workers, and employers, as detailed below. 

Nearly 275,000 Americans have parents who are TPS recipients from El Salvador, Honduras, or Haiti.[5]  Choosing not to renew longstanding TPS designations will result in these American children’s parents being forced to choose between leaving behind their children or living in the United States illegally and at risk of deportation. 

More than 50 percent of Salvadoran and Honduran TPS recipients have resided in the United States for 20 years or more, as have thousands of Haitian TPS recipients.[6]  TPS recipients, who are ineligible for most federal public assistance programs,[7] have high levels of workforce participation and are vital contributors to our economy.  According to a recent analysis by the Center for American Progress, if Salvadoran, Honduran, and Haitian workers with TPS are removed from the labor force, we will lose an estimated $164 billion in GDP over the next decade as well as billions of dollars in Social Security and Medicare contributions.[8]  The renewal of TPS designations has received strong support from business and labor leaders who have direct experience with the valuable contributions of TPS recipients to our economy, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,[9] the AFL-CIO,[10] the SEIU,[11] and the Teamsters.[12] 

For these reasons, we call on you to extend TPS for the 10 nations that are currently designated and to continue to designate other countries for TPS as warranted by particular conditions.  Thank you for your consideration. 

[1] USCIS data cited in Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report RS20844, Temporary Protected Status:

Overview and Current Issues, November 2, 2017, http://www.crs.gov/reports/pdf/RS20844.

[2] October 4, 2017 letter from the Haitian ambassador to Acting Secretary Duke requesting that Haiti’s designation be extended for an additional 18 months, cited in CRS Report RS20844;  Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez called on the Trump administration to continue TPS for Hondurans, cited in  http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/article180679161.html;  El Salvador's government asked the Trump Administration to extend TPS to nearly 200,000 of its nationals living in the United States, the country's foreign minister announced, cited in https://www.voanews.com/a/el-salvador-asks-us-government-for-tps-extenwsion-/4002837.html.

[3] Acting Secretary Elaine Duke Announcement on Temporary Protected Status for Nicaragua And Honduras, November 6, 2017, https://www.dhs.gov/news/2017/11/06/acting-secretary-elaine-duke-announcement-temporary-protected-status-nicaragua-and.

[4] Temporary Protected Status for Sudan to Terminate in November 2018, September 18, 2017, https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/temporary-protected-status-sudan-terminate-november-2018.  

[5] Temporary Protected Status in the United States: Beneficiaries from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti, October 23, 2017, https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/temporary-protected-status-united-states.  

[6] A Statistical and Demographic Profile of the US Temporary Protected Status Populations from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti, Journal on Migration and Human Security, 2017, http://jmhs.cmsny.org/index.php/jmhs/article/view/99.

[7] TPS recipients are ineligible for SNAP, ineligible for SSI unless they were in receipt of SSI benefits on August 22, 1996, ineligible for TANF, and eligible for Medicaid emergency services only. CRS Report RL33809, Noncitizen Eligibility for Federal Public Assistance: Policy Overview, December 12, 2016, http://www.crs.gov/reports/pdf/RL33809.             

[8] TPS Holders Are Integral Members of the U.S. Economy and Society, October 20, 2017, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/news/2017/10/20/440400/tps-holders-are-integral-members-of-the-u-s-economy-and-society/.

[9] Letter to Acting Secretary Duke from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, October 26, 2017, https://www.uschamber.com/sites/default/files/171024_temporaryprotectedstatus_dhs_duke.pdf.  

[10] 5 Things You Need to Know About TPS or Temporary Protected Status, October 13, 2017, https://aflcio.org/2017/10/13/5-things-you-need-know-about-tps-or-temporary-protected-status;  In Their Own Words: Why Immigrant Worker Protections Must Be Extended, August 15, 2017,

https://aflcio.org/2017/8/15/their-own-words-why-immigrant-worker-protections-must-be-extended.

[11] SEIU’s Sáenz: We call on President Trump to protect DACA and TPS and work towards common sense policies that protect immigrant families, August 15, 2017, http://www.seiu.org/2017/08/seius-saenz-we-call-on-president-trump-to-protect-daca-and-tps-and-work-towards-common-sense-policies-that-protect-immigrant-families.

[12] No to criminalization of working people. Yes to DACA and TPS! #DefendDACA #ExtendTPS, August 16, 2017, https://twitter.com/Teamsters/status/897797931180412928

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