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Democrats ask Biden to expand TPS to immigrants from Guatemala

33 Democratic Senators recently sent a formal request to the Biden Administration asking the President to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to immigrants from Guatemala and expanding eligibility for TPS to those immigrants who are from El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

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    A Letter to the Biden administration

    33 Democratic Senators included Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) recently sent a formal letter to the Biden administration requesting that the President grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to immigrants from Guatemala by executive order. In addition, they also request that TPS eligibility would be expanded to include more immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. It is estimated that if TPS is granted to individuals from these countries, an estimated 2 million or more immigrants, would be allowed to live and work in the United States without the threat of deportation.

    Farmer in El Salvador

    What is Temporary Protected Status?

    Temporary Protected Status (TPS) was established by the U.S. Congress in the Immigrant Act of 1990 and allows immigrants in the United States who are from countries that were negatively affected by natural disasters, armed conflicts, and other extraordinary conditions to live in the country without threat of deportation back to a potentially dangerous home country.

    Furthermore, TPS provides work permits to those who apply for employment authorization so that immigrants may legally work in the United States. TPS designations are issued by the Secretary of Homeland Security and last 6-18 months at a time and can be renewed indefinitely. Currently, it is estimated that more than 300,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua are present in the United States under TPS.

    Children in Central America

    Why these countries?

    In their letter to both the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, and Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, Senate Democrats voiced their concern for a potential humanitarian crisis in Central America.

    In their letter, lawmakers are concerned over “the severe damage caused by back-to-back hurricanes just over one year ago, combined with extreme drought conditions, and the social and economic crises exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic”. It is believed that these worsening humanitarian conditions “warrant such an action by the administration” as a combination of these disasters has resulted in increased food insecurity, violence, and rising social tensions in the region.

    In addition, it is believed that if TPS is expanded to include more Central American immigrants, it could lead to fewer illegal border crossings and help improve the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border where many immigrants set up camp as they wait to apply for asylum due to violence in their home countries.

    Furthermore, Democrats believe granting immigrants from Central America with TPS would “give the U.S. government more time to partner with governments and civil society in the region to ensure that the return of a large number of individuals to Central America does not create further instability and volatility”.

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