Extend Temporary Protective Status Now!

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We the undersigned, write to urge you to support the extension of Temporary Protective Status for the 340,000 people across the country, who may soon lose their immigration status overnight. As a group of healthcare workers and community members dedicated to the health and well-being of the immigrant population in the Greater Boston area, we call on you to support our colleagues, neighbors and communities across the Commonwealth.

The Temporary Protective Status (TPS) program, which falls under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has allowed individuals from countries with ongoing conflicts or environmental disasters to work and contribute to the growing economy of the Greater Boston area since 1990. The countries currently under TPS designation include El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Nepal and Yemen.[1]

As you know, among all US states, Massachusetts has the 7th largest immigrant population, with foreign born individuals representing 15% of the population in our Commonwealth. A large proportion of these individuals living in Boston are from Haiti (7.6%) and El Salvador (6.3%).[2] The immigrant population contributes significantly to the Greater Boston economy, holding a large proportion of health care and social assistance jobs (15%) in addition to high-skill jobs in engineering, information technology, the sciences, and low-skill jobs in manufacturing and service.[3]

Since 2003, DHS has overseen TPS and holds authority and ability to designate a country for TPS and to extend or terminate TPS designations. Many immigrants have been able to work and contribute to their communities for several years under this designation by re-registering annually. We are especially concerned by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's recent recommendation that TPS be ended for Central Americans and Haitians. A few months ago, former Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly gave Haitian nationals a six-month TPS extension through Jan. 22, 2018. The Trump administration has until November 23, 2017 to decide whether to give Haitians another extension. On November 6th, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announced TPS status would be ended for 2,500 Nicaraguans, who will have until Jan. 5, 2019, to leave the United States or change their residency status. She gave 57,000 Hondurans a six-month TPS extension, through July 5, 2018, and TPS expires for 200,000 Salvadorans on March 9, 2018. These deadlines are approaching quickly, and the Trump administration has made it clear that it is not interested in further extensions.

This is concerning to our collaborative group and to the Greater Boston population, as there is reason to believe that if these extensions are phased out or if TPS is allowed to expire, this action could potentially remove over 100,000 individuals who contribute to the workforce within Massachusetts.

Besides the large economic toll that allowing TPS to expire would take on the area, the human tragedy is that many TPS families have young children who were born here and are citizens of this country.  This adds to the moral dimension of TPS. There are known risks to those who would be forced to return to their home countries. For example, Haiti continues to face public health crises in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew in 2016, which would not only threaten the health of those returning, but also perpetuate the existing cholera epidemic and other health concerns such as Zika.[4],[5],[6] In addition, other TPS designated countries such as El Salvador, which holds the world’s highest homicide rate, pose a direct threat to the safety and security of these families who would be forced to return to communities rife with gang violence and murder.[7]

In light of this information, we request that you strongly urge the Department of Homeland Security to extend TPS beyond 2018. The consequences of losing TPS would directly impact the communities and strongholds of Greater Boston and Massachusetts on a whole. We hope that you will support our plea and continue to support actions that embrace our immigrant population and further our country’s humanitarian efforts locally and abroad.

Please help us to protect TPS and ensure that this program remains active to support the health, safety, and security of the residents of Massachusetts.

_______________________
[1] “Temporary Protected Status.” USCIS, Department of Homeland Security, 17 Oct. 2017, www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/temporary-protected-status
[2] Walsh, Martin J. “Foreign Born in Boston.” Imagine All the People, City of Boston, Jan. 2016, www.bostonplans.org/getattachment/996f5664-5c87-454b-8a40-0d31a86e983f
[3] Bachmeier, James, and Jennifer Van Hook. “Profile of the Unauthorized Population - MA.”Www.migrationpolicy.org Migration Policy Institute (MPI), 1 Sept. 2017, www.migrationpolicy.org/data/unauthorized-immigrant-population/state/MA
[4] Haiti: Hurricane Matthew, Situation Report, March 2017, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, http://www.fao.Org/3/a-bsl44e.pdf;
[5] "Why the Low Zika Numbers in Haiti Might Be Wrong." Beaubien, Jason, NPR, September 7, 2016, http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoday2016/09/07/492818984/why-the-low-zika-numbers-in-haiti-might-bewrong
[6] Haiti: Hurricane Matthew, Situation Report, March 2017, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, http://www.fao.Org/3/a-bsl44e.pdf
[7] “The Department of State Warns U.S. Citizens to Carefully Consider the Risks of Travel to El Salvador Due to the High Rates of Crime and Violence. .” U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of State, 14 Feb. 2017, travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings/el-salvador-travel-warning.html.



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