BY ISN STAFF | January 26, 2016
The Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) was among the more than 270 organizations that sent a letter to President Obama on Monday asking his administration to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a form of temporary immigration relief, to undocumented immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in light of pervasive violence and environmental disasters that prevent them from safely returning to the region.
The letter, signed by civil rights, labor rights, faith-based, immigrant, human rights, humanitarian, and legal service organizations, sets out the legal and factual rationale for the designation of TPS for these countries, often referred to collectively as the Northern Triangle. The organizations joined the growing national chorus of voices demanding TPS, including presidential candidates Senator Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, over 140 House Democrats, and various other groups.
“TPS is grounded in clear statutory authority that was established by Congress 25 years ago to respond to humanitarian crises like we are seeing in the Northern Triangle,” said Royce Murray, policy director at Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center. “Knowing the violence that is occurring in these countries, and how their governments have failed to keep their own citizens safe, it would be unconscionable to deport anyone there at this time. It is exactly the type of situation TPS is intended to address.”
The letter sent today asks the administration to employ TPS protection as an additional component of a comprehensive humanitarian response to the Central America refugee crisis, in addition to the U.S. State Department’s recently announced plan to establish third-country refugee processing centers in Central America.
“There is no factual or legal barrier that prevents the Obama administration from expanding TPS to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras,” said Jose Magana-Salgado, immigration policy attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. “Congress provided the executive branch substantial latitude in designating countries for TPS and it is incumbent on this administration to exercise that authority. To do otherwise would be to continue to deport Central Americans to their deaths.”
More than 17,500 people died in homicides in 2015 in the Northern Triangle, a geographic region the size of the state of Oregon and home to just under 30 million people. For the past six years, all three countries have ranked within the world’s top four countries for rates of femicide, while El Salvador and Guatemala have had the highest homicide rates in the world among children. A recent report by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center estimates that over 750,000 Central Americans would benefit under a TPS designation.