U.S. Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, both D-Md., are pressing for new protections for immigrants from Central America, Haiti and Sudan after a federal appeals court ruled the Trump administration could move forward with ending a program that gives them safe harbor.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday in favor of the Trump administration’s efforts to end the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program. The federal program allows approximately 400,000 immigrants from Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan to live and work in the U.S. Those countries have been ravaged by civil wars, gang violence and political and social strife.
Some TPS recipients have been living and working in the U.S. for decades. Immigrants from TPS countries often worry about returning to their home countries where they could violence and retribution from gangs.
The Eastern Shore and other parts of Maryland have sizable Salvadoran and other Central American communities. Central American, Haitian and other immigrant workers work in the Shore’s agricultural, seafood, poultry and hospitality industries. A number of workers from TPS countries also working in health care and other critical jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Democratic senators said there are more than 6,600 TPS workers on the COVID frontlines in Maryland.
Cardin and Van Hollen want new TPS protections to be part of the next COVID-19 relief package being considered by Congress.
“There are over 400,000 TPS recipients in the United States and the majority have lived in the United States for over two decades. They have started businesses and families and are integral members of their communities. Approximately 131,000 TPS recipients from El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras are essential critical infrastructure workers. These TPS recipients are critical to our pandemic response. They are putting themselves at risk to ensure the safety and health of our nation,” Sens. Cardin and Van Hollen along with U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., wrote in a letter to U.S. Senate leadership. “TPS employment authorization documents should be automatically extended during the pandemic in order to minimize disruption while these essential workers help our nation through this crisis.”
President Donald Trump has sought to end or reduce a number of immigration programs. Trump has offered to negotiate with Democrats on programs such as TPS and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in exchange for more congressional funding for a border wall with Mexico.
Van Hollen criticized the Trump administration for its move to end TPS.
“TPS recipients are our neighbors. They live and work in our communities, and right now thousands of them are serving on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, fighting to keep us safe and healthy. To turn our backs on these legal residents is shameful. I will continue fighting in Congress to push back on this Administration’s despicable efforts to end the TPS program, tear apart our communities, and deport our neighbors and friends,” Van Hollen said in a statement.