Refuge denied: Temporary protected status terminated for refugees

drawing of people in line to go into american flag maze
Illustration by Doug Griswold (Bay Area News Group/MCT)

The termination of the temporary protected status was announced on Nov. 6, 2017. More than 300,000 refugees were protected by TPS from countries such as El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. TPS allowed them to legally be in the United States, temporarily, and to have work permits.

Temporary protected status was created by Congress in 1990 to create a system which would grant temporary protection to individuals who are unable to return to their home countries because of a political or environmental catastrophe.

Many TPS holders have built families in the U.S. and some have children who hold American citizenship. Not only would families lose their jobs with the removal of TPS, but they would be utterly torn apart.

What if the U.S. suddenly had a disease outbreak or was completely affected by natural disaster or was attacked, making it unsafe for individuals to continue living here because of the lack of resources in our home country? Where would we go? What would we do? Since there are not many options in this hypothetical situation, seeking refuge in another country would seem like the best thing to do in a time of national crisis.

The same reasons we would flee from our home country during a time of national crisis is similar to the reasons individuals have found refuge in the U.S. These are people who have had to leave their home countries because of the unsafe conditions they found themselves in.

They have no control over these bad conditions and have no other choice than to flee for their safety. The U.S. has always been known as “the land of the free.” For this administration to terminate TPS and send some of these refugees back as early as January 2018 is inhumane and contradictory to America’s reputation.

The Trump administration has other options than to completely terminate TPS. One option they have, as suggested by representatives of the network of immigrant organizations known as Alianza Americas, is to support a legislative solution that would allow those who currently benefit from TPS to request permanent residency.

The Department of Homeland Security designed TPS for the safety of the people due to conditions that may not allow a safe return or because their country may be ill fit to adapted to the return of a large number of people. So why send them back to those countries that cannot handle their return, why deport them to countries where they may have nothing left?

According to Alianza Americas’ data, many refugees have been here since Bill Clinton’s presidency. These individuals have built their lives here and have been left with nothing back in their home countries.

These individuals have become active members of American society: working, paying taxes and contributing to the economy. Deporting them would heavily impact our economy. According to Alianza Americas, it would cost our federal government $3.1 billion dollars to deport all TPS holders solely from El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti. That is only three of the ten countries that were formerly protected by TPS.

However, this is about a lot more than the impact on our economy. It is about the dangers these individuals would reencounter. It is about the families built in the U.S. that would be torn apart. It is about the decision parents would face of whether to take their American-born children with them or leave them behind for their own good.

Taking them would mean exposing them to harm, while leaving them behind would mean possibly never seeing them again and not being there for their most monumental events of their lives. The U.S. was built on immigration. Removing these individuals who have found safety in our country is inhumane and contradictory to U.S. values.

Written by Katherine Luna