WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2017 — On Monday, Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke largely ignored a State Department recommendation that the nearly two decades-long Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for more than 400,000 Central Americans and Haitians be terminated. In a letter to Ms. Duke, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated that conditions in the Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Haiti no longer justify continuation of TPS.
Despite that assessment, Duke extended TPS for 86,000 Hondurans, while announcing that about 5,000 Nicaraguans would lose that status come January 2019. More disturbingly, Duke torpedoed the entire concept of offering temporary protection to people whose homelands have been affected by some unforeseen event. In a press release announcing her decision, Duke suggested that the long-term abuse of TPS that has resulted in over 400,000 people remaining here decades after the triggering event necessitates that “Congress…enact a permanent solution to this inherently temporary program.”
“There is a permanent solution to this situation and others that may arise in the future. That is for Congress to ensure that TPS is not 'inherently' a temporary program, but is actually temporary, as the T in its name indicates,” responded Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration (FAIR). “The hurricane that struck Central America in 1998 is not the reason why citizens of those countries still enjoy TPS in 2017. They are still here because the people who willingly accepted our temporary offer, their advocates, and their governments have abused our generosity and managed to get the program extended far beyond any reasonable definition of temporary.
“It is also important to remember that many people who have been granted TPS were in this country illegally at the time of the triggering events, and never had any intention of returning home,” continued Stein. “Now the Acting Secretary of DHS is suggesting that our nation's generosity be used against us by arguing that we owe them a permanent amnesty. Abuse of TPS by guests – most of whom should not have been here in the first place – and foreign governments that value remittances sent home by their citizens more than they value the citizens themselves, should never be rewarded.”
Duke's announcement coincides with the start of the confirmation process for her permanent replacement, Kirstjen Nielsen. At tomorrow's confirmation hearing, Senators will have an opportunity to seek clarity from Nielsen about the direction the department will take on TPS and other immigration matters. “President Trump vowed to end the flagrant abuses of our immigration system. Secretary Tillerson has made clear his department's assessment of conditions in Central America and Haiti. The question now is whether DHS will act in concert with the president, the rest of the administration, and the expressed wishes of the American people, or will it continue to bow to external pressures on immigration?,” Stein concluded.
Founded in 1979, FAIR is the country's largest immigration reform group. With more than 1.3 million members and supporters nationwide, FAIR fights for immigration policies that serve national interests, not special interests. FAIR believes that immigration reform must enhance national security, improve the economy, protect jobs, preserve our environment, and establish a rule of law that is recognized and enforced.
Contact: Joe Gomez, [email protected]; 202-742-1843
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