‘They Will Have to Listen to Us’ – Scenes from a TPS Protest in DC

(Screen shot from a video by Jenniffer Martinez via Noticia LI)

They said that they cannot continue to live in uncertainty and anguish, pointed out that they have worked in the country for decades and, finally, condemned the fact that thousands of families would end up split or be forced to return to unsafe countries should their temporary protected status (TPS) be annulled.

On Thursday, hundreds of TPS beneficiaries, many of them from Long Island and New York, walked the streets of Washington to demand a permanent solution to their status, saying that they want to stop being used as a bargaining chip by politicians in the U.S. capital.

“We are tired of being seen as delinquents when we are not. We are hardworking people, we are not stealing from anyone, we have homes and families, and we pay taxes,” said Sinia Recinos, who joined hundreds of protesters in the area near Washington’s Capitol.

Her son Jerry was with her. Born in California, he is a citizen, unlike his mother, who arrived on the West Coast at 8 years old, over two decades ago, as her parents fled the violence devastating El Salvador. Upon arrival, they applied for the TPS granted by U.S. authorities.

Like many others benefiting from this protection, Sinia built a life in the U.S. that could be interrupted and a family that may end up separated if her legal status is annulled and she is forced to return to her country of origin without her son.

“We were given credit cards and mortgages for our homes. What is supposed to happen now?” she wonders.

The TPS program was created in 1990 to grant residency permits to citizens of countries affected by armed conflict or who were victims of violence or natural disasters. However, Trump’s government decided to review the program, leaving more than 400,000 immigrants wondering about their future. Despite a number of court decisions and political speeches, the issue remains unresolved.

For this reason, the National TPS Alliance, a group fighting for the rights of these immigrants – who hail from 13 different countries – organized this demonstration along the streets of the country’s capital. The objective was to press legislators to approve a law granting them citizenship or permanent residence.

Obstacles notwithstanding, it seems that things are moving in a favorable direction for them. Several members of Congress joined representatives of the Alliance Feb. 14 to announce that they will meet with them this week to add this issue to their political agenda.

(…) “It is time for lawmakers to put an end to these ongoing attacks and protect immigrants,” said Vanessa Velasco, from the organization CARECEN San Francisco, which helps Latino immigrants in the process of adapting to the country.

Concepción Morales, a father who lives in Maryland, summarized the sentiment behind the events held this week: “I came here years ago looking for a prosperous future, I made my American dream come true, and now they want to shatter it for me,” he said, adding: “But now they will have to listen to us, and they will have to get to work on a law that protects us all.”

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