Immigrants from Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Nepal are in suspense over the future of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program, which is set to air in court, after talks between President Joe Biden and the plaintiffs’ administrations failed.
“Neither I nor any of the others return, we already have life made up,” said Jessica Giron, a Honduran accountant from the state of New Jersey.
Salvadoran businessman, Sarah Martinez, thinks so. “No, I don’t see myself there, my country is here,” said the La Union native, who settled in Los Angeles in 1995.
Girón and Martínez are protected by TPS, immigration relief that has put more than 337,000 people in distress since 2018, when then-President Donald Trump decided to cancel the program; However, thanks to a lawsuit, the validity has been extended to December 31, 2022.
Over the past five years, the beneficiary has faced various hurdles on the rocky road, in its struggle to find help and get a permanent solution.
In June 2017, beneficiaries of the program from Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Nepal met in Washington DC to form the National TPS Alliance. To date, there are approximately 35 committees across the United States, which are supported by more than 10 organizations and associations.
Upon learning of Trump’s decision, which revoked this immigration relief for Honduras and Salvador, they took to the streets to protest and formed a caravan that headed for the US capital.
“They never listened to us,” Giron said of the efforts made before the government of former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández.
The idea of the people of the Coalition was to join forces with the presidents, seeking heads of state who represented the immigrants covered by the program. This was revealed to Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele when he visited Washington DC in October 2019.
“We asked President Bukele to help us, lobby,” said Salvadoran Tony Vasquez, TPS committee coordinator in Woodbridge, Virginia. The response he got was positive.
However, on the same day activists learned that the President of El Salvador had signed an agreement with the United States to return Salvador to his native country.
Vasquez said of the agreement that goes against this alliance’s fight, “Bukele put the knife in us, we feel betrayed.”
The people of Salvador reaped the benefits of this program in 2001, after the nation suffered the devastation of two devastating earthquakes. Meanwhile, Hondurans was granted TPS in 1999 after the destruction caused by Hurricane Mitch as it passed through Central America.
Despite the fact that some are convinced that the government of Honduras President Xiomara Castro is less visible in efforts in favor of the TPS, there are organizations with which he has had ties.
Girón, originally from Tegucigalpa, said, “We have not stopped protesting or negotiating, assuring that the diplomatic officials appointed by former President Hernández “have not expressed interest or want to hear the matter and we will never be replaced.” Didn’t give.”
Before taking office, Honduran in the TPS National Alliance began sending letters to Castro. He then contacted the embassy in Washington DC, his first meeting with the char d’affaires via Zoom.
To this day, these activists have already met with Foreign Minister Enrique Reina, President Castro, and even went to the Honduran Congress, where 128 delegates voted unanimously for a resolution in which he called himself a Declared to support the efforts of TPS as a country. ,
“We’ve been able to feel the government’s interest in the TPS issue, we’ve heard and we’ve got a commitment from President Castro to take on this issue as a country,” said Giron, a program beneficiary. New Jersey since 1998.
In the midst of the current legal dispute, the Fundación 15 de Septiembre was created in Miami (Florida). Members of that organization rallied in Washington DC this Monday and stationed themselves in front of the Honduran embassy, asking that the Castro government not only focus on the matter that is in court.
“What we want is a new TPS to protect half a million Hondurans,” said Juan Flores, president of that foundation. This activist assures that Castro has not complied with a request for immigration relief submitted by the previous government as a result of Hurricanes Iota and Eta in December 2020.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times in Spanish, Honduran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tony García revealed that President Castro, Foreign Minister Reina and García themselves had worked with the Biden administration to deliver another TPS and protect people covered since 1999. Attempts have been made at different levels.
The deputy secretary of state said last week he met Katie Tobin, special assistant to President Biden and senior director of cross-border affairs on the National Security Council. “I reminded him that when Biden was a candidate, he said canceling TPS was ‘a recipe for disaster,'” he said.
“We have done what can be done humanely, since Vice President Kamala Harris came for the inauguration, there the President mentioned the issue. The Chancellor and his servant have requested it later”, Vice Chancellor García said. Told.
In a letter addressed to the Secretary of the Department of National Security, Alejandro Meyercas, Foreign Minister Reina requested on 18 April that the situation in the country in November 2020 and the devastation caused by Hurricanes Eta and Iota be taken into account so that a new TPS is approved.
Reina also elaborated in the letter that if her compatriots were left without the current immigration relief and these people were deported, it would mean “more unemployment, more violence, more food insecurity, than the current Honduras.” Fewer opportunities for people living in the U.S., and much more likely to be irregular migration”.
A new TPS, the foreign minister said, would be “a significant relief” while President Castro’s government works to create the basic conditions “so that HondurasThey can return you to a democratic, prosperous and secure environment in the country where they were born.”
The TPS, created in 1990, serves as a form of humanitarian aid to countries ravaged by natural disasters or war. In the opinion of Oscar Chacon, executive director of Alianza Americas, the Biden administration should continue to pressure it not to end the program.
In contrast to the situation in Honduras, the government of El Salvador has taken up the narrative that the nation has changed, something that becomes a loss for Salvador in this migrant relief.
Chacón said, “When a government declares that the country has reached heaven and all Salvadorans are happy, there is no more unemployment and they will also welcome those who want to return, which really poses a problem.” can do.”
“We know this is far from reality, but it is the image that is projected,” the activist said, so President Biden’s administration “can say that the conditions that made it worthwhile to grant temporary protections.” no longer exists and may send people back.”
As experts say, the matter will be settled in court. However, the Biden administration may still extend the program or still have the power to grant deferred action.
In this scenario, in the opinion of Ral Hinojosa-Ojeda, a professor of political science at UCLA, the president of a country can advocate for and advocate for his fellow citizens through his diplomatic representatives, but he believes that Bukele does that. Cannot use the resource because he maintains strained relations with Biden’s government.
“The problem here is that we didn’t see that this is a priority for the government” [de Bukele] maintain good relations with the United States”, the academic reported.
Political scientists also note that the TPS case is thorny. In his opinion, whether the court or the federal government decides to repeal it definitively, it would be a negative blow to both the Biden administration and the Bukele government.
“To the extent that it fails, it will have very negative political, economic and social implications for the Salvadoran government,” Hinojosa-Ojeda said. “The United States also understands this; There will be an impact if TPS is not pursued, people are going to sue the administration [Biden] And they will blame him for not keeping his promises.”
While the Honduran TPS activists have the support of their government, the Salvadorans involved in the movement see no tangible support.
Last week, when a note was published about the apparent abandonment that the program’s beneficiaries have been, El Salvador’s ambassador to Washington, Milena Mayorga, responded on Twitter, assuring the opposite.
“Fake! Our government has never shied away from the agenda of our brothers abroad. Their campaign of lies is unfortunate,” wrote the diplomat. In another tweet, Mayorga assured that since he took over as ambassador, he has joined TPS And his efforts “have not stopped” for his compatriots with DACA “for a beneficial solution”.
Tony Vasquez disagrees with Mayorga. This worker assures that the local consulate in Virginia has closed its doors to them. Before getting into those facilities, but later they were told they had to send the request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and they again didn’t have that support.
Also, the community organizer says that the ambassador has been absent, he thinks the same about Secretary of State Alexandra Hill Tinoko.
“She is lying,” said the activist, arguing that Ambassador Mayorga’s alleged efforts with congressmen are from February and May 2021, where the diplomat claimed to have addressed the issue of TPS, as indicated on his Twitter. can be seen in the account.
“We don’t even want to see that woman,” Vasquez said, “they don’t pay interest in the least for the feelings of people with TPS, Bukele already showed us with agreement to return; now “None of us are going to El Salvador.”