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27 Senators to Secretary Nielsen: “The decision to end TPS will uproot thousands of well-established lives and, in many cases, will devastate families and communities.” 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Washington’s U.S. Senators Patty Murry (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined 25 Senate Democrats in sending a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen urging DHS to reverse its decision to end Temporary Protection Status (TPS) designation for El Salvador.

Earlier this week, DHS announced it would be ending TPS designation for the nearly 200,000 Salvadorans working and living under TPS protections in the United States today. Ending the TPS designation will not only uproot thousands of lives, disrupt communities across the U.S., and remove much-needed workers from important sectors of the U.S. economy, but it will also harm progress made to improve conditions in El Salvador.

“We believe that conditions in El Salvador remain unstable, and that continued TPS designation is warranted for the country,” the senators wrote. “In June 2017, the Trump administration held a conference to promote prosperity, governance, and rule of law in the Northern Triangle countries of Central America—including El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. While progress has been made under the Alliance for Prosperity in reducing gang violence, improving rule of law, and addressing root causes of migration, considerably more work needs to be done as conditions remain dangerous and the economic situation tenuous. The decision to end TPS for 200,000 Salvadorans and needlessly subject these immigrants to deportation stands to threaten, not further, this progress.”

There are 1,900 Salvadorans in Washington state who are TPS holders, and 1,600 U.S.-born children in Washington state have Salvadoran parents who are TPS holders. Washington state would lose $81.1 million in GDP annually without Salvadoran workers who hold TPS.

Senators Murray and Cantwell were joined in sending the letter by Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ed Markey (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chris Coons (D-DE), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Mark Warner (D-VA).  

The text of the letter is available here. The text of the letter is below.

 

January 11, 2018

 

The Honorable Kirstjen Nielsen

Secretary 

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Washington, D.C.  20528

 

Dear Secretary Nielsen:

We write to express our deep concern regarding the unprecedented decision to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for El Salvador, and to request that you reverse this decision.

As you know, nearly 200,000 Salvadorans currently work and live in the United States under TPS protections—more than from any other country. These immigrants have high levels of workforce participation, and their valuable role in our labor force is vital to our economy. According to a recent analysis by the Center for American Progress, if Salvadoran workers with TPS are removed from the labor force, we will lose an estimated $109 billion in GDP over the next decade, as well as billions of dollars in Social Security and Medicare contributions.[1]  The renewal of El Salvador’s TPS designation has received strong support from leaders in both business and labor, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,[2] the AFL-CIO,[3] and the SEIU.[4]  Ending TPS protections for El Salvador will needlessly push nearly 200,000 hardworking immigrants into the shadows, hurting employers in industries across our economy.

El Salvador’s government requested last year that the Trump Administration continue its existing TPS designation, after assessing that its country lacks the capacity to absorb tens of thousands of TPS returnees.[5] Additionally, remittances transmitted by TPS recipients, who are authorized to work in the U.S., provide a critical boost to El Salvador’s fragile economic security. More than 50 percent of TPS recipients in these countries have resided in the U.S. for 20 years or more, and TPS beneficiaries are parents to an estimated 273,000 U.S. citizen children.[6]  The decision to end TPS will uproot thousands of well-established lives and, in many cases, will devastate families and communities.

We believe that conditions in El Salvador remain unstable, and that continued TPS designation is warranted for the country. In June 2017, the Trump administration held a conference to promote prosperity, governance, and rule of law in the Northern Triangle countries of Central America—including El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. While progress has been made under the Alliance for Prosperity in reducing gang violence, improving rule of law, and addressing root causes of migration, considerably more work needs to be done as conditions remain dangerous and the economic situation tenuous. The decision to end TPS for 200,000 Salvadorans and needlessly subject these immigrants to deportation stands to threaten, not further, this progress. 

Given these concerns, we ask that you provide the following information no later than January 25, 2018:

  1. A complete copy of documents prepared by the State Department and transmitted to the Department of Homeland Security regarding the country condition in El Salvador, including the recommendation regarding extension or termination of the TPS designation for El Salvador;
  2. A complete copy of documents prepared by the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador and transmitted to the State Department regarding the Embassy’s assessment of country conditions and formal recommendation related to the extension or termination of the TPS designation for El Salvador;
  3. A description of how this information was considered in reaching your decision to terminate the TPS designation for El Salvador;
  4. A description of how, if at all, the State Department’s February 14, 2017, travel warning stating that El Salvador has one of the highest homicide levels in the world, and citing high rates of MS-13 and Eighteenth Street gang violence, was considered in reaching your decision to terminate the TPS designation for El Salvador; and
  5. A description of any involvement by White House officials in the decision-making process related to the TPS designation for El Salvador, including detailing any policy preference or perspective communicated by the White House to you or other Department of Homeland Security officials.

We urge you to reconsider the decision to end TPS protections for Salvadorans, and commit to working with Congress to pass legislation providing permanent protections for current TPS beneficiaries. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

With best personal regards, we are

 

                                                            Sincerely yours,