This week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) let the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) expire for more than 200,000 Salvadorans who, following the 2001 earthquakes in their home country, came to the U.S. seeking stability and better lives. During the past 17 years, these immigrants have bought homes, started businesses, and actively contributed to the U.S. communities they call home. Quite simply, DHS continues to make bad decisions – including last November with the removal of TPS status for Hondurans and Haitians who likewise had come to the U.S. after natural disasters struck their home countries.
TPS should not be made into a political football. Indeed, for decades it has enjoyed bipartisan support. It was created by Congress in 1990 and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush as a mechanism to provide nationals of certain countries facing ongoing armed conflict, natural disasters, or other catastrophes a way to remain, work, and build lives in the U.S. It gave eligible immigrants a chance at the same American dream that other immigrants to the U.S. have sought and obtained since our nation’s founding.
In all, almost a half a million people are directly affected by the TPS decision, including more than 270,000 children – all U.S. citizens – whose parents are TPS beneficiaries. Sadly, as with other decisions impacting immigration during the past several months, the policy change does not only impact communities and families but the economies of cities and towns throughout the country. Texas, California, Florida, New York, Virginia, and Maryland are disproportionately affected by the removal of TPS holders, and this decision could result in tens to hundreds of billion dollars of loss, according to recent studies from the Center for American Progress and Immigrant Legal Resource Center.
Further, the removal of TPS beneficiaries will slow down the rebuilding process for communities, including Texas, Florida, and California, affected by recent natural disasters. Approximately one-fifth to one-quarter of affected TPS holders are a part of the rebuilding efforts in these states through the construction trades. DHS’ actions will create a scarcity for construction workers, and increase costs to residents, businesses, and the government.
Last year, Univision called on Congress to step up and do the right thing to protect DACA. Tuesday’s California district court ruling allowing existing DACA beneficiaries to apply for renewal demonstrates the need for a legislative solution as the order left open a number of questions about the future of DACA.
Congress must take steps immediately to modernize our immigration system. Dreamers, TPS beneficiaries, and countless other immigrants who serve our nation as soldiers and first responders, who teach and learn in our schools, and who better our neighborhoods are waiting. Univision – and all of Corporate America – is waiting. In a nation founded by and built by immigrants, we need to ensure there are protections in place for immigrants. The time to act is now.