Letter to House, Senate Leaders Advocates for Bill to Allow TPS Beneficiaries to Remain
BOSTON – Attorney General Maura Healey today joined a coalition of 19 attorneys general in urging Congress to protect long-time residents of the United States following the decision of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for thousands of Haitians and Salvadorans.
In a sent today, the attorneys general called on Congress to pass a bill allowing recipients of TPS from Haiti, El Salvador and other nations to adjust to permanent resident status.
“The Trump administration’s cruel decision to end Temporary Protective Status for these countries is a tragedy for thousands of families in Massachusetts and across the country,” AG Healey said. “The beneficiaries of TPS are fully integrated into our communities and our local economies. We urge Congress to pass legislation to protect the families and children who, without this designation or other status, would be forced to return to countries that are unsafe or not ready to take them back in.”
When conditions in a foreign country temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or, in certain circumstances, when the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately, DHS may designate TPS to nationals from that country who are present in the United States. Once designated, nationals may apply to live and work legally in the United States. The TPS designation lasts no more than 18 months, at which point DHS can decide whether to extend the program. TPS beneficiaries must reapply for the status every single time that the designation is extended. Strict recertification criteria apply, including that all beneficiaries remain law-abiding.
The TPS designation was granted to Haitians after the January 2010 earthquake that took over 200,000 lives and displaced more than 1.5 million people, with an estimated 50,000 people still living in displaced person camps today. Salvadorans were granted TPS status in 2001 following a series of natural disasters and ensuing economic and political crises.
“The thousands of TPS beneficiaries who reside in our states are long-time residents who have made substantial contributions to our communities and economies,” the letter notes, adding that TPS beneficiaries have more than 275,000 U.S.-born children and contribute more than $4.5 billion to the United States’ gross domestic product.
There are more than 10,000 TPS grantees in Massachusetts alone.
The attorneys general argue that the termination of TPS for these nations will put hundreds of thousands of people in the difficult position of choosing whether to return to their countries of origin, with or without their children, when their home countries may not be in the position to receive them.
AG Healey has been a strong advocate for the continuation of TPS, and previously joined with then-State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry in the Department of Homeland Security to extend TPS to Haitian nationals in Massachusetts.
The AG’s Office also participated in a community dialogue with the Salvadoran community at the Consulate of El Salvador in East Boston to discuss the TPS program and how the AG’s Office can help.
Joining Massachusetts in sending today’s letter, led by Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.