A State of Anguish:
Termination of Temporary Protected Status
On September 14, 2020, a California appeals court gave the Trump Administration permission to eliminate the opportunity for immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Sudan to come to the United States through Temporary Protected Status and clearing the way for the authorities to force almost 300,000 immigrants out of the country. This decision will impact hundreds of thousands of immigrants who came to the United States for safety. A total of 88% of immigrants with EFA are employed, 94% are men and 82% are women. These individuals are contributing to the US economy and it is not fair to force them to return to a country that may be unsafe.
What is the EPT?
Temporary Protected Status was created by Congress and included in the Immigration Act of 1990, for individuals who have or are experiencing armed conflict, natural disasters, or extraordinary and temporary conditions in their home countries. Once the EPT is given, the immigrant obtains a work permit and a stay of deportation. As of February 2020, there were ten countries with an EPT designation status. Those countries were from El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
195,000 Salvadorans, 57,000 Hondurans, and 50,000 Haitians live, work, raise their families, and have established ties in the United States thanks to Temporary Protected Status (EPT). Most of these individuals are active agents in the US market, working to support their families while benefiting the US economy. In fact, during the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 131,000 EPT holders have worked as essential workers. More than 200,000 people traveled to the United States to escape the armed conflict, natural disasters, or extraordinary and temporary conditions in their countries of origin and avoid being victims of disease, violence, hunger, effects of natural disasters, or other harmful conditions. Some of these people have resided in the US for decades and created a home here that surpasses the current home in their home country.
Why was the EPT ended?
The Trump administration said the reason for the termination of this temporary protected status is because the emergencies that occurred in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Sudan occurred in the past. Trump claims that these individuals no longer need a "safe haven." The EPT was created so that individuals could temporarily flee their unsafe country and is therefore not designed with the intention that people with this status can become permanent residents. One way to change this decision is to vote so that immigrants can have the right to a safe place to live, work, and raise their families.
Does the idea that the EPT has been terminated mean that it is safe for people affected by natural disasters or emergencies to return to their country of origin?
These conditions have effects that last much longer than the event. These countries are full of violence, crime, gangs, and unsafe living conditions. Just because the war or natural disaster has subsided does not mean that it is safe for EFA holders to return to their countries.
How does this decision affect individuals?
People who have been affected and forced to return to their countries of origin will have to leave everything they have established in the United States, such as jobs, houses, and communities and will return to precarious countries that are not ready for the sudden influx of so many people. Furthermore, individuals could face separation from their families due to the fact that more than 273,000 TPS holders have children born in the US and are therefore US citizens. In addition, the fact that the EPT has been terminated means that people who are seeking refuge cannot receive support.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been impacted by this decision. Hundreds of thousands of contributing individuals in the country will have to uproot their lives. These people have woven themselves into the fabric of America, it would be remiss to stand by and allow this injustice to occur. As a community, we have a voice and we have the opportunity to raise it against our government and the policies that have been implemented. Let's use that voice to speak for those without a voice and protect those in need of protection. Let's educate ourselves on current policies and vote for those who represent our beliefs. Exercising our right to vote has an impact on what will happen in our communities, so exercise your right to vote whenever you have the opportunity, whether in local, state, or federal elections, as doing so will help maintain the strength of the communities our EPT holders have created.
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