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Temporary Protected Status holders journey for justice

American Friends Immigrant Services (AFIS) TPS committee member Umaine shares her story during the TPS Journey for Justice. Photo: TPS Alliance / AFSC
AFIS Community Organizer Paul-Andre Mondesir speaks during one of the journey’s stops. Photo: TPS Alliance / AFSC
TPS advocates march through the rain during the TPS People’s Summit in Washington, D.C. Photo: Bryan Vana / AFSC

During the past year, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders in the United States have been forced to consider that they may no longer be protected from the threat of deporation. The Trump administration has ended TPS for several countries, and more lie at risk as their status approaches expiration.

TPS recipients are foreign nationals who are allowed to stay in the U.S. if they are unable to return to their country because of war, natural disaster or other conflict. Many have been driven out of their country of origin and have been in the U.S. for years or decades, where they have built homes and families.

In the fall of 2018, the AFSC’s American Friends Immigrant Services in Miami, FL helped shuttle more than 50 TPS holders with the National TPS Alliance across the country to inspire local communities to connect and mobilize with the national campaign for permanent residency and protections for immigrants.

Called the Journey for Justice, the tour from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. brought attention to the urgent issues TPS holders face. While temporary extensions provide minor relief for immigrants who are trying to find stability, there is no guarantee that another extension will come—at which point they could be forced to return to a country that has not recovered from economic devastation or is unsafe due to violence.

Umaine Jean, a TPS committee member with AFIS, may be separated from her children if an agreement on a permanent solution is not reached. Umaine has been active with AFIS in speaking out against the termination of TPS, and agrees that the issue requires immediate action.

“We need to be unified, and to stay together, to get what we need,” she said about her time with the Journey for Justice. When asked about what it is TPS recipients are looking for, her answer was simple: “Residency—now!”

The National TPS Alliance and and AFIS have kept the pressure on in the fight for residency. In February 2019, TPS holders from all over the East Coast again brought their voices to Washington, D.C. for the TPS People’s Summit. Hundreds gathered in front of the White House to speak out against the Trump Administration’s unwillingness to acknowledge the humanity of TPS holders.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (MA) each voiced their support for a permanent solution. “From Nepal to Honduras, we made a promise that we were going to be a safe haven,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We need to make sure that, as a nation, we honor our promises.”

Marching in slickers through the rain and cold, TPS recipients and their families filled the street from the White House to the U.S. Capitol, waving heavy flags and banners soaked from the weather.

AFIS and partners of the AFSC accompanied TPS holders to meetings with representatives for the rest of the day, asking that Congress take action to keep immigrant families together; to allow them to continue the lives they have built in the U.S.

The AFSC is calling on Congress to enact a permanent solution that grants lawful permanent residency and a roadmap to citizenship for all immigrants in the country. Join us in demanding relief for TPS, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) by signing our petition here.

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