TPS holders, family members and advocates call for permanent protections

NEWARK, NJ — On Nov. 9 in Newark, Temporary Protected Status holders, faith leaders, local officials and immigrant rights advocates held a socially distanced press conference to call on Congress to pass a pathway to permanent residency for all TPS holders. The press conference marked the arrival of the bus known as “la Libertad” to New Jersey on the “Road to Justice,” a nationwide bus tour to uplift the demands of TPS holders and to speak out against family separations. 

TPS protects more than 450,000 people from deportations. In 2018, the Trump administration announced the cancellation of the program for Sudan, Nepal, Nicaragua, Haiti, Honduras and El Salvador; under this plan, beneficiaries of the TPS program — many of whom have lived in the United States for nearly two decades — would be vulnerable to deportation and separation from their families and homes here in the United States. During the press conference, impacted community members and allies said they would call on the Biden administration to deliver on its campaign promise to protect TPS families and sign a legislative solution to guarantee permanent residency for all TPS holders. 

“I’ve lived in this country for 24 years. I have three children. My message to Congress is that they must help us obtain permanent residency. We don’t want to be separated from our families. My daughter exercised her right to vote for the first time in this election. We ask our new administration to complete the promise of providing a permanent residency for TPS holders,” said Blanca Garcia, a TPS holder from El Salvador and member of the New Jersey TPS Committee. 

“TPS is very important to my mother who is a TPS holder from Honduras and relies on TPS to work and obtain a driver’s license,” said Liane Taracena, youth leader of the New Jersey TPS Committee. “As the second COVID wave creeps upon us, it is crucial that we support and protect essential workers like my mom. In addition, at this moment Central America is suffering through a devastating category-four hurricane. It’s clear that Honduras is not equipped to receive more people. I truly hope that TPS not only gets renewed, but we will see permanent residency for the hundreds of thousands of people who have worked tirelessly and diligently to achieve a better future for their families, just as my mom has done for our family.” 

“How can anyone in good conscience send people back into danger and the threat of violence? Yet that is what our government has threatened to do with our TPS holders,” said Father Timothy Graff, director of the Social Concerns Office for the Archdiocese of Newark. “These are our brothers and sisters who have come to our country seeking the protection that they were promised. Here they have found a home and a future — a place of safety for themselves and their families. We ask all people of good will to support our brothers and sisters and provide a pathway to permanent residency.”

In New Jersey, there are 7,500 TPS workers in essential industries, such as health care, sanitation and food services. Without permanent protections, TPS holders face immense uncertainty about their ability to continue working and to remain with their families and homes here in the United States. The House has passed the Dream and Promise Act, which would offer a pathway to citizenship for people with TPS, Deferred Enforced Departure or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, but the Senate has not.