Tuesday, July 12, 2016

77 Members of Congress Request TPS Designation for Northern Triangle Countries

Today, 77 Members of Congress, led by Reps. Norma J. Torres (D-CA), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), called on President Obama to grant Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for citizens of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, based on the elevated levels of violence in those countries. Between 2005 and 2015, the homicide rates in Honduras and Guatemala increased by 50 percent, while the rate in El Salvador doubled. As the region has become more dangerous, thousands have sought safe haven in neighboring countries, prompting the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees to raise alarm about a regional “protection crisis.”

“There needs to be a comprehensive and effective response to the refugee crisis in Central America. TPS is a necessary component of that response and must go hand-in-hand with strengthened due process protections, refugee resettlement, and strategic investments to address the root causes. We simply cannot continue to send children back into the hands of the gangs and corrupt police forces that they were fleeing in the first place,” said Rep. Norma J. Torres (D-CA).

“For years, the countries of the Northern Triangle have been plagued by mounting gang violence and horrific levels of violence against women and children,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ). “As Americans, we have a moral obligation to welcome and offer refuge to vulnerable people fleeing for their lives. To deport mothers and young children who have traveled hundreds of miles in search of safety would be cruel and contrary to our values. That’s why I’m proud to stand with nearly 80 of my Democratic colleagues in calling on President Obama to grant TPS to these Central American families.”

The Immigration and Nationality Act grants the President authority to designate TPS for countries where there are “extraordinary and temporary conditions” that would prevent individuals from being safely returned. Although El Salvador and Honduras have previously been designated for TPS, that designation is based on natural disasters. Honduran nationals who arrived in the United States after January 5, 1999 are ineligible for TPS, as are Salvadoran nationals who arrived after March 9, 2001, and all Guatemalan nationals.

The full text of the letter is below, along with the list of signers.

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Dear President Obama,

We write to request that you designate the “Northern Triangle” countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). These countries merit TPS designation because of the devastating increase in violence that has led to an acute humanitarian emergency. An effective and comprehensive response to this crisis must include TPS, which offers temporary protection in emergency situations, without granting a path to legal permanent resident status.

A new designation would expand TPS to Guatemala and provide a much-needed re-designation to the TPS designations for Honduras and El Salvador, both of which are based on natural disasters that occurred more than fifteen years ago. As a result, Hondurans who arrived in the United States after January 5, 1999 are ineligible for TPS, as are Salvadorans who arrived after March 9, 2001. All Guatemalans are ineligible for TPS.

Designating the Northern Triangle for TPS is both necessary and fully within the existing authority of the Secretary of Homeland Security. Section 244(b)(1)(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides clear statutory authority for the designation of TPS for citizens of a country that is afflicted by “extraordinary and temporary conditions in the foreign state that prevent aliens who are nationals of the state from returning to the state in safety, unless the [Secretary of Homeland Security] finds that permitting the aliens to remain temporarily in the United States is contrary to the national interest.” We believe the recent increase in violence in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras meets that standard.

There is no doubt that the Northern Triangle has become significantly more dangerous in recent years. The homicide rate in El Salvador nearly doubled between 2005 and 2015; in Honduras and Guatemala, the rate has increased by approximately fifty percent in that time span. Women are particularly vulnerable to violence; the rate of homicides against women in El Salvador is the highest in the world.

Sending children and families back to such a dangerous region places them directly in harm’s way. Between February and May of 2016, the American Immigration Council conducted a series of interviews with women who had been recently deported. The women spoke of living in fear that the street gangs, who they had fled in the first place, would come and take their children. With corruption so prevalent in police forces, the women said they had nowhere to turn for protection. We cannot, in good conscience, send vulnerable children and families back to these conditions.

The Central American refugee crisis requires a comprehensive response. We need to strengthen due process protections domestically and work with partner governments to strengthen protection throughout the region. TPS can be an important element in such a strategy.

Thank you for your consideration of this important request.

Sincerely,

NORMA J. TORRES
RUBEN GALLEGO
BETO O’ROURKE
HAKEEM S. JEFFRIES
ZOE LOFGREN
JAN SCHAKOWSKY
JOSÉ E. SERRANO
RAÚL M. GRIJALVA
MICHAEL M. HONDA
JAMES P. MCGOVERN
HENRY C. “HANK” JOHNSON
BARBARA LEE
KEITH ELLISON
RUBÉN HINOJOSA
LINDA SÁNCHEZ
TONY CÁRDENAS
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN
MARK TAKANO
LUIS V. GUTIÉRREZ
MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM
LUCILLE ROYBAL-ALLARD
MARK POCAN
MARCY KAPTUR
JOAQUIN CASTRO
NYDIA M. VELÁZQUEZ
DAVID N. CICILLINE
CHELLIE PINGREE
JUAN VARGAS
SAM FARR
BETTY MCCOLLUM
JARED POLIS
BONNIE WATSON COLEMAN
JIM MCDERMOTT
GRACE F. NAPOLITANO
JOSEPH CROWLEY
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON
THEODORE E. DEUTCH
GREGORY W. MEEKS
NIKI TSONGAS
ALCEE L. HASTINGS
DAVID LOEBSACK
G. K. BUTTERFIELD
KATHLEEN M. RICE
DONNA F. EDWARDS
TED W. LIEU
CEDRIC L. RICHMOND
ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON
DONALD S. BEYER, JR.
GRACE MENG
SUZANNE BONAMICI
JOHN A. YARMUTH
FRANK PALLONE, JR.
CHARLES B. RANGEL
LORETTA SANCHEZ
DANIEL T. KILDEE
BEN RAY LUJÁN
BRENDA L. LAWRENCE
AL GREEN
ADAM SMITH
BILL FOSTER
KAREN BASS
SEAN PATRICK MALONEY
ALAN LOWENTHAL
BOBBY L. RUSH
MARC A. VEASEY
JERROLD NADLER
XAVIER BECERRA
DONALD M. PAYNE, JR
JOHN LEWIS
ADAM B. SCHIFF
SHEILA JACKSON LEE
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ
JUDY CHU
DORIS MATSUI
LOIS CAPPS
MIKE THOMPSON

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