Editor's note: This blog post was updated on Feb. 2, 2018.
The Trump administration’s decision to rescind DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) sparked a vocal, nationwide movement to resist this inhumane attack on young people, their families, and our communities. Elected officials are feeling the pressure—a clean DREAM Act that would allow nearly 800,000 DACA recipients to stay and attain permanent lawful status has been gaining momentum in Congress.
But hundreds of thousands more immigrants in the U.S. face a situation that is no less tragic or cruel but has yet to gain the same visibility. These are people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a life-saving program under which the government grants legal residency status to people from certain countries afflicted by natural disasters, war, or other dangerous conditions. In just the past few months, the administration has ended TPS for over 250,000 people, and many more may face the same fate in the coming months.
As activists mobilize across the country to protect DACA recipients from deportation, we must also stand up for TPS holders who face the same threat. Here’s why.
1. The time for action is now.
In the past several months, Trump has ended TPS for four countries and refused to re-designate TPS for Syria, barring any Syrians who entered the U.S. since August 2016 from qualifying for the program despite the devastating civil war still raging in that country. The administration also refused to make a decision for Honduras, leaving 57,000 people and their families in excruciating limbo.
We must support bills like the American Promise Act of 2017 (H.R.) 4253 and the SECURE Act (S.2144), which allow for a legal path to residency for all TPS holders.
2. We must stop Trump’s racist agenda.
Targeting immigrants protected by DACA and TPS is part of the Trump administration’s systematic attacks on communities of color—and it’s critical that we continue to push back against this racist agenda from all sides. It’s no surprise that countries that have recently lost their TPS designation including Liberia, Guinea, Haiti, Sierra Leone, and Sudan are predominantly communities of Black people. Communities of color have also been targeted by Trump’s Muslim Ban, current visa sanctions, and efforts to terminate the Diversity Visa Lottery program.
3. DACA and TPS—and their recipients—have a lot in common.
There is significant overlap in the largest nationality groups among DACA and TPS recipients—showing how people fleeing similar circumstances in the same nations arrived in the United States at different times and were granted temporary protections under different programs.
El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua are in the top 15 countries with DACA recipients at over six percent of the DACA population, and collectively they account for eighty percent of TPS holders. About 22 percent of TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti, arrived as children under age 16—just like DACA recipients, according to the Center of Migration Studies.
Whether escaping violence or natural disasters, or seeking to be reunited with family members, or searching for better economic opportunities, DACA and TPS holders migrated to the U.S. because it was their best—and in some cases—only option.
4. Ending TPS or DACA would devastate our communities.
Both TPS And DACA recipients are deeply integrated into our communities. TPS recipients from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti have more than an estimated 273,000 children born in the United States while there are over 200,000 U.S. citizen children born to DACA recipients. Beneficiaries of both programs provide emotional and financial support to loved ones, play major roles in their communities, and are employed across a range of professions.
An end to DACA or TPS would mean uprooting vital community members, family and loved ones left behind, businesses and careers abandoned, and disrupting the economy of their states and the U.S. at large.
5. Building solidarity across our movements is how we will win.
Here in Washington D.C., we have seen intersectional and inclusive organizing across movements championed by communities that understand that the Trump’s administration anti-immigration agenda hurts all of us. From occupying congressional offices and delivering and letters from children affected by immigration policies, to risking arrests to raise awareness about TPS and DACA, many groups have come together in solidarity to call for policies that respect the humanity in all people.
A prime of example of this was the Undocublack Network and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Immigrant Rights Organizing Table day of action. The collaboration across these two communities, often pitted against each other, created awareness of the inadequate representation of people of African and Asian descent in the immigration debate. At the Undocublack/AAPI rally in Washington D.C., Danea Joseph, a DACA recipient from Belize said: “My liberation is tied with yours. If I’m not free, you’re not free, and if you’re not free, I’m not free.”
While this administration continues to promote divisive messaging amongst communities, we must deliberately call in members of other communities impacted by homophobic, xenophobic, racist, and Islamophobic policies and practices. By reaching out to one another, advocating for each other’s rights, and employing our strength in numbers, we can build solidarity across our movements to advance justice and freedom for all.
6. We need more pathways to citizenship for all immigrants in the U.S.
No one should be deported. Today, we are calling on Congress to enact a permanent solution that creates a swift roadmap to lawful permanent residency and citizenship for all TPS recipients and the millions of other immigrants in the country.
This pathway should be established on a platform of shared values and humane treatment of all immigrants. As we advocate for the rights of the TPS and DACA members of our communities, we must continue to call for a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million members of our community who do not qualify for DACA, TPS, or any other form of relief. This includes opposing any policies that may protect DACA recipients but harm other community members by increasing immigration enforcement, for instance, or further militarizing our border regions.