New Yorkers Call for TPS Extension

Perla Canales, from Honduras, has lived on Staten Island since 1993 and is a beneficiary of TPS. (Photo by Mariela Lombard via El Diario)

[UPDATE: The Trump administration announced that TPS has been rescinded for Nicaraguans in the U.S., while Hondurans got a six-month extension. There is no decision yet on Salvadorans.]

After her husband died in 1993, Perla Canales migrated from Honduras to New York City, leaving her four children in her country. She suffered labor abuse and discrimination during her first years as an undocumented immigrant, and remembers that she used to work long, exhausting days in the area’s factories without air conditioning in the summer, and exposed to other risky conditions.

That changed when Canales was able to regularize her situation through the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) granted by Bill Clinton’s administration in 1999 after the devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch.

Canales, 54, said that this enabled her to leave behind the worker exploitation and civil rights violations she endured and find a job in maintenance at a Staten Island shopping center in which she enjoys the protection of a union. She is a member of Local 32BJ.

“TPS changed my life and my family’s,” said Canales during a protest held in front of the 26 Federal Plaza building in Lower Manhattan, where the offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are located. “The federal government will send me back into the shadows if they decide not to extend the program. I am my children and grandchildren’s only source of income. I will not find a job in Honduras. There is no work for people my age in my country.”

A hard blow for New York

Make the Road New York, Local 32BJ and other base organizations sent out a call to demonstrate on Monday at noon in front of Federal Plaza to defend TPS. The federal government could announce the cancellation of the program for Hondurans, Salvadorans and Nicaraguans today, arguing that they no longer merit protection from deportation. Federal authorities will announce their decision on TPS affecting Haitians on Thanksgiving Day.

Protest in favor of TPS extension at 26 Federal Plaza. (Photo by Mariela Lombard via El Diario)

Advocates say that Central America is not prepared to welcome the over 300,000 beneficiaries of the program currently living in the United States, and that failing to extend the benefit would be devastating for the economy of both New York and the nation.

“Hundreds of our members are TPS beneficiaries who greatly contribute to the economy of New York and the entire country. Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador lack the resources and the job positions that these immigrants and their families need,” said Denis Johnston, vice president of Local 32BJ’s Service Employees International Union (SEIU), New York’s largest private sector union and the country’s largest service employees’ union.

Salvadorans were granted TPS for the first time in 1991 due to their country’s civil war, and later in 2001 for a series of earthquakes. In 1999, Hondurans and Nicaraguans received the status after Hurricane Mitch, and Haitians, in 2010 after the earthquake that decimated the Caribbean nation.

Currently, 46,000 Haitians, 2,550 Nicaraguans, 57,000 Hondurans and 200,000 Salvadorans are protected under the program across the United States.

Study: The country loses if TPS is cancelled

According to a report published in March by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), canceling TPS for Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador would signify a reduction of nearly $7 billion in revenue for Social Security and the Medicaid health care program in the next decade.

In addition, the study states that deporting more than 300,000 people would cost the government more than $3.1 billion.

“The United States and New York benefit when immigrants are able to work legally and contribute financially,” said Johnston.

The study points out that the most affected cities would be New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Houston, Dallas, Washington D.C., Boston and Atlanta.

The state of New York is home to 26,000 beneficiaries of TPS, according to figures from the nonprofit Center for American Progress. At the moment, 21,800 children born in the state have parents who are Salvadoran, Honduran or Haitian immigrants benefiting from the immigration program.

These TPS-protected immigrants generate $1.5 billion annually within New York’s economy. Most of the Central American population enjoying the status is living on Long Island and in parts of the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens.

Of all New Yorkers benefiting from TPS, 16,200 are Salvadoran, 4,600 are Honduran and 5,200 are Haitian.

According to the organization, 15,600 children born in the state have Salvadoran parents who have TPS. In addition, 4,600 minors born in the state are the children of Honduran parents protected by the program.

Of all Honduran immigrants with TPS, 21.3 percent work in the construction industry, and 19.9 percent of all Salvadorans benefiting from the program work in the food and service industry. For their part, 47.7 percent of all Haitians who have the status work in housekeeping and the health services industry.

Salvadorans with TPS in the state have lived here an average of 21 years, Hondurans for 22 and Haitians for 15 years.


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