LI Businesses Feel the Pinch of End of TPS

Immigrants are not shopping or spending the way they used to. The cancellation of TPS is hitting Long Island businesses. (Photo via Noticia Long Island)

With the announcement of the cancellation of the temporary protected status (TPS), the economic scenario has changed, not only for the nearly 14,700 Salvadorans living on Long Island under such protection, but also for local businesses, entrepreneurs and governments, who are seeing how people are choosing to save rather than spend.

“Business owners will be hit hard by this. Salvadorans, like the rest of the Hispanic community, spend their money as soon as they earn it. However, we are now seeing all of that change. People are not filling their shopping carts at supermarkets the way they used to: Now they only buy the basics because they are taking precautions to have cash on hand in case something happens,” said Rogelio Bonilla, the Salvadoran owner of a company called Torticana, based on Long Island.

“At the labor level, I can also see how I may be affected in 2019, because some of my employees have TPS and the law requires them to at least have a work permit,” added Bonilla. This is only one example to illustrate the estimated losses of $395 million in earnings and $860 million in added value for the local economy cited by a report made by Suffolk County’s Department of Economic Development and Planning.

No more dining out

“Most of our customers are Salvadoran, and we are already being affected by the announcement of the cancellation of TPS. Many people are not eating out. They are choosing to order takeout to spend less money. They would rather save it to pay for any legal expenses that may arise or for whatever happens, so coming here and sitting down to eat would increase the amount of money they spend,” said Stephanie Ruiz, the daughter of the owners of Restaurante Albertina, in Freeport, who has worked at the establishment for the past 10 years.

One of the main concerns of Nassau County resident Miguel Posada, a 16-year beneficiary of TPS, is the house he worked so hard to buy six years ago. “If my wife and I are unable to work legally, it will be very difficult to continue paying for the house in which we have settled with our two children,” said Miguel. He is only one of the 4,527 homeowners protected under TPS, whose absence would have a serious impact on the real estate sector, according to the Suffolk County report.

Still, these are only the first economic repercussions that the cancellation of TPS will cause. If all Salvadorans receiving this benefit leave, the local economy may lose up to $1.4 billion.

“Many families will be affected, as will be the local workforce. I have been a beneficiary of TPS for 14 years, and I have been able to work, travel to my country and have a peaceful life, have a bank account, for instance, and all that has been great for the economy of the area,” said Guillermo Cuello, a Honduras native. Even though his residency petition is in process, he is concerned about what may gradually happen on Long Island as a result of the cancellation of TPS.

According to the Center for American Progress, New York – Long Island, in particular – is one of the areas in the United States where the largest numbers of Salvadorans with TPS reside. Upon losing their work permits and landing in immigration limbo, they would leave a great void in the economy of the counties of Nassau and Suffolk due to a reduction in housing investments in both rental and owned property. It would also certainly have a direct effect on small businesses, which would be hit head-on by the choice these consumers are being forced to make between buying and saving.

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