IRVINGTON, NJ — Former Irvington Building Department Director and newly elected East Orange Mayor Ted Green chimed in on Tuesday, Jan. 9, with the growing chorus of concerns raised by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s decision to end the Temporary Protected Status of 200,000 El Salvadorans who have been allowed to live and work in the United States since 2001, when two devastating earthquakes ravaged their country. And he’s not the only one concerned.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau website, as of the 2012-2016 census, 54,425 people live in Irvington, with the percentage of foreign-born residents at 31.4 percent, many of whom are Haitian immigrants.
On Tuesday, Jan. 9, Irvington Councilwoman at large Charnette Frederic, who is Haitian-American, made the following comments about the Trump administration’s revocation of TPS for Haitians in November: “In Irvington, we did have a resolution to protect TPS for Haitians. … Even though we did make a lot of noise in the Haitian community about TPS, it didn’t have much of an effect at the national level with Congress or the Senate or the president. We have an open letter to President Trump. Whatever we say, he doesn’t really care. People in the White House and Congress don’t understand what the immigrant community is going through or how much decisions like this affect us. Most of those people have kids that are born here. It’s sad that we have a president like this in the White House. I’m glad I live in a blue state. We just have to keep on fighting.”
Green issued a statement Tuesday, Jan. 9, against the president and in favor of the 200,000 El Salvadorans affected by his latest TPS decision. During his time as East Orange City Council chairman, Green also championed immigrants by voting for legislation designating East Orange as a sanctuary city in December 2016; approving a proclamation supporting the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival implemented by former President Barack Obama on Sept. 11, 2016; and passing Resolution No. I-416 on Dec. 27, which condemned the decision to revoke the TPS protections for 58,000 Haitians living and working in the United States after that country’s devastating 2010 earthquake.
Green and the East Orange City Council joined Obama in supporting DACA, also known as “the Dream Act,” that sought to protect the so-called “dreamers” — children whose parents brought them into the United States illegally — from being deported to their native countries. Obama issued an executive order in 2012, and the East Orange City Council voted unanimously at its Sept. 11 regular meeting to issue the proclamation condemning Trump for rescinding the program and leaving it up to the U.S. Congress to resolve, at some time in the following six months, when work permits and deportation protections that thousands of undocumented young immigrants are scheduled to expire.
Trump set Monday, March 5, as the deadline for DACA to end. Based on Green’s legislative track record, it was no surprise that he issued a formal statement about the Trump administration’s decision to end the TPS designation for El Salvador, much as he and the council did last year, when the same thing was done to Haitians living here.
“Every time the Trump administration reverses an immigration policy that has allowed hardworking families to find sanctuary, peace and a better quality of life, our nation is taking a huge step away from our humanity and what makes America great,” said Green on Tuesday, Jan. 9. “To send nearly 200,000 Salvadorans — thousands of whom are New Jersey residents — back into the belly of what is considered to be one of the most dangerous places on Earth is cruel and unusual punishment. Like our country, East Orange is built upon the backs of immigrants who sought the American dream. As a sanctuary city, we fully support all federal efforts to reverse this decision and to find a more humane one.”
Destin Nicholas, a local business owner and former Irvington Municipal Council candidate, took a more pragmatic position on the recent TPS decisions.
“A lot of people didn’t read the fine print on TPS, that it was temporary when it was issued to Haitians in 2010, after the earthquake,” said Nicholas on Tuesday, Jan. 9. “The Trump administration objective is to overthrow everything the Obama administration did. When the Trump administration came in, they didn’t cut it like that. They gave them 18 or 19 months, until July 2019, to get their proper paperwork done and filed to either try to become American citizens or make arrangements for their businesses they have here in this country, if they have to go back to their own country.”
According to Nicholas, there has been a shift in U.S. immigration policy, but he said that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, especially those previously protected by TPS.
Nicholas, who helps Haitians and other immigrants prepare their U.S. tax filings and other services, said, “The difference is in how the paperwork for visa extensions and citizenship are being processed. It used to take two or three months to get paperwork processed, but now it takes eight months to a year. They’re really digging now. Any legal violation you have is going to come up. Now they designed this country for the good guys. If you’re one of the bad guys, that’s it.”