On January 8th, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it is terminating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador. TPS is a temporary, renewable, and statutorily authorized humanitarian migration program that permits individuals to remain and work lawfully in the U.S. during a period in which it is deemed unsafe for nationals of that country to return home. The vast majority of TPS recipients in the U.S. are Salvadoran.
In a released statement, Archbishop José H. Gomez lamented the travesties this decision will induce saying, “Now these families face a hard decision about their future — either stay together and go back to El Salvador to face likely violence and exploitation or separate possibly permanently so that the children can remain here in safety, with all the benefits of U.S. citizenship.”
“This is an inhumane choice that no one should have to make,” he said.
There are currently 200,000 residents with TPS status living in the U.S. who have 193,000 children who are U.S. residents.
According to Bishop Kevin Vann of the Diocese of Orange, “This is yet another ill-conceived decision by an administration that ignores the immense contributions to our country by immigrants and that has lost sight of the United States’ long history as a safe haven for people who flee danger abroad.”
Vann, who also serves as chairman of the board of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. continued, “The administration fails to address how it makes the United States any safer to expel people who have been living and working legally as valued residents of our country. Instead of withdrawing their protections, our government should welcome these long-term, settled members of our communities and find ways to give them a permanent path to residency.”
All who have TPS status are employed. California is home to almost 50,000 TPS, the largest number of any state.
Pope Francis weighed in on the matter imploring that “It must not be forgotten that migration has always existed. Nor should we forget that freedom of movement, for example, the ability to leave one’s own country and to return there, is a fundamental human right.”
The pope went on to call for abandoning “the familiar rhetoric and start from the essential consideration that we are dealing, above all, with persons.”