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Jan-27-2012 16:35printcomments

Campaign Launched for Central Americans with Temporary Protected Status in the U.S.

Groups say Permanent Residency is the only solution...

Due to devastation from natural disasters, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) was designated to families from Honduras and Nicaragua in 1999.
Due to devastation from natural disasters, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) was designated to families from Honduras and Nicaragua in 1999.

(HOUSTON) - Nearly 14 years ago, Central America was hit with several devastating natural disasters which had a significant impact on entire communities throughout the region and led to hundreds of thousands of Central American families establishing roots in the United States.

In 1998, Hurricane Mitch, one of the deadliest hurricanes in Central American history, ravaged Honduras and Nicaragua and resulted in the loss and displacement of thousands, as well as a collapse in the physical infrastructure. Due to this devastation, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) was designated to both countries in 1999.

The 2001 earthquakes in El Salvador resulted in the loss of over 1,000 lives and resulted in the displacement of thousands more, in addition to extensive destruction of the physical infrastructure and severe damage to the country’s economy. Reconstruction efforts have been slowed and hindered by subsequent Hurricanes, including Stan (2005), Felix (2007), Ida (2009) and the most recent tropical rain last October.

Very recently, all of the countries were extended their designation for temporary protected status for another 18 months. The Secretary of Homeland Security determined that an extension is warranted because the conditions that prompted the initial designation of TPS continue to be met, in particular inadequate or fragile infrastructure and weak economies which at this moment would be unable to adequately handle the return of its nationals from the U.S.

TPS has allowed its beneficiaries to remain in the U.S.since then with mandatory renewal every 18 months to maintain this status. The costs associated with this renovation are high and burdensome for many families. Thousands of families who have lived here nearly a decade or more are in a state of limbo, because they do not know what could happen to them after the 18 month period that their status is valid. The only way to secure a more stable and safe future for them is to enable them to become Permanent Residents and which will consequently, put them on the path to U.S. Citizenship. Currently, TPS beneficiaries form Central America include: approximately 64,000 Hondurans, 212,000 Salvadorans, and 3,000 Nicaraguans.

Community organizations from all throughout the country have formed a coalition and are launching a campaign to promote Permanent Residency for TPS beneficiaries from Central America. While a comprehensive immigration reform is not foreseeable in the near future and the current administration has adopted a step by step approach in tackling the unfair and confusing immigration practices, we are here as TPS beneficiaries and supporters to advocate for legislative action that will allow them to stay in the US as permanent residents. The Coalition will hold a press conference on Monday, January 30, in Houston Texas, at 11:00 a.m. at Houston’s Federal Building. During the press conference we will announce the launch of this campaign and will invite our TPS community, legislators, community organizations and activists, congregations, unions, and all those who support a fair and viable solution for immigrant families in the U.S.

We come together to support vibrant futures for families that have not only contributed to our national economy, but have been a critical and positive force in the reconstruction of their home countries by sending remittances to family members. These families are productive members of our society with the same dreams and hopes as many of us, and have worked very hard to provide for their families, buy their first home here in the U.S., or open their own business. Every 18 months during the renovation process, they have gone through background checks and have proved that they are law-abiding and of good moral character and that they pay their income taxes every year.

It is critical to understand that TPS, this important but temporary immigration benefit, is not the path towards self-sufficient, stable immigrant communities. Permanent Residency is the only solution to ensure the progress of our families, communities, and nation, and end the uncertainty that these thousands of families are living everyday.

The campaign is a joint effort of the following organizations: The SHARE Foundation (Berkley, CA); Oregon’s Latino Immigrant Rights Coalition, Causa (Salem, OR); CARECEN-DC, CRECEN-Houston; CARECEN-LA; Centro Romero (Chicago, IL); Sunflower Community Action (Wichita, KS); East Bay Sanctuary Covenant (Berkley, CA); CEUS (Union City, NJ); Centro Hispano Cuzcatlan (Jamaica, NY); America paraTodos (Houston, TX); Voluntarios por El Salvador (Houston, TX); Comite Amigos en Accion (Houston, TX); Comites de beneficiaries del TPS (Houston, TX); Centro CivicoSalvadoreño (Dallas, TX); Wind of the Spirit, NJ; Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (Chicago, IL); North Carolina Latin American Coalition (Charlotte, NC); and SALEF (Los Angeles, CA)

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Causa, Oregon's Immigrant Rights Organization, is the largest Latino and Latina civil and human rights and advocacy organization in the Pacific Northwest. We work to defend and advance immigrant rights through coordination with local, state, and national coalitions and allies. For more information, visit www.causaoregon.org

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