Author: Gillian Villarroel
On September 15th, LAWG joined partner organizations such as CASA, Alianza Americas, and others at a rally in front of the White House urging the Biden-Harris to redesignate Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador and initial designation for Guatemala through executive advocacy. The rally included testimonies from members of the immigrant community as well as children of TPS holders. Chants such as “¿Qué queremos? ¡TPS! ¿Cuándo lo queremos? ¡Ahora!” echoed across Lafayette Park. The rally concluded with a march around the White House, with a unity of voices singing chants demanding for TPS, swaping stories and exchanging words of encouragement. Millions of individuals continue to anxiously await the extension and re-designation.
The continuation and expansion of TPS for countries in Central America has been a long process for which immigrants, along with LAWG and many other civil society organizations, have worked tirelessly. TPS is a provisional immigration status, established by Congress in 1990, that is given to individuals from nations grappling with armed conflicts, environmental catastrophes, or exceptional circumstances. It grants individuals a work permit and safeguards them against deportation if they were in the United States at the moment the U.S. government granted the designation. Many immigrants fleeing from Central America are escaping state-sanctioned violence, limited economic opportunities, and lack of protection from human rights violations. Families left behind depend on the remittances sent from abroad to survive.
Deciding to leave one’s family and life behind to migrate is a courageous decision that shouldn’t be more difficult than it already is and TPS holders’ support for their families is critical. DHS has extended the TPS re-registration period from 60 days to 18 months for El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Guatemala has yet to receive TPS designation, so we can’t back down. We must be outspoken about the importance of TPS designation for Guatemalans in the lives of the over half a million people from there living in the United States and the families they support back home. We can’t do this alone. The Biden administration knows that the political crisis and economic conditions in Guatemala are fueling migration, just like in the neighboring countries. LAWG and our allies will continue to advocate for TPS designation for Guatemalans. We won’t back down, la lucha sigue.