National Coalition of Elected Officials and Immigration Advocates Unveil TPS for Central America Engagement

Speak Out Event Sends Powerful Message to White House that Now is the Time to Grant Broad Relief


September 15, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Launching Hispanic Heritage Month, Members of Congress today joined advocates to urge the Biden Administration to support Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Central America. Fighting for the dignity of Central Americans who are living in the United States, leaders asked the Biden Administration to grant families protection from deportation to countries destabilized by climate emergencies, human rights violations, and political unrest. Hundreds of thousands who have lived in this country for decades would benefit from the Biden Administration designating TPS for Guatemala, and re-designating TPS for Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.

Hundreds of advocacy groups signed a letter to the Administration urging officials to guarantee TPS protections for over one million and a half Central Americans. In the past calendar year, over 80 members of the House and more than 30 U.S. Senators have called on the Administration to expand TPS protections for immigrants from the four mentioned Central American nations. Advocates launched an effort today to garner signatures from local and state elected officials that support the initiative.

Those issuing remarks on the Capitol grounds included elected officials and directly impacted community members from Central American nations. They joined hundreds of immigrants and allies, who marched from Columbus Circle to the Capitol that morning.

“As we continue to confront a Trump-led Republican Party that exploits our immigration system to inflict harm and sow division, the Biden administration has a critical window to use its existing authorities to designate TPS for Guatemala and to re-designate TPS for Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said. “These protections would fundamentally transform the lives of nearly one million people and further unleash their ability to strengthen our economy and fill existing labor shortages. The Biden administration should meet the moral and economic imperative of the moment, as it has previously done to protect Ukrainians, Afghans, Haitians and other immigrant families who would be put in danger if forced to return to their respective home countries.”

“TPS is a matter of life and death, and providing these opportunities for individuals and families facing the ongoing humanitarian crises in their countries are more important than ever,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13). “We must not take for granted the extreme peril families face that causes them to uproot themselves and flee. And as a nation, we must continue our efforts to address the root causes of migration while also working to mitigate risks of further instability throughout Central America. There is a growing humanitarian crisis in the region, and these temporary designations give the U.S. government the availability to further strengthen our efforts to help some of the most vulnerable individuals and families – Guatemalans, Hondurans, Nicaraguans, and Salvadorans — who need our help today more than ever.”

“We’re here, raising our voices for justice with songs and chants. Hispanic Heritage Month starts today. We are here for immigration reform!” said Rep. Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-CA), Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. “Unfortunately, we hit a wall in Congress because of Republicans. We need to create a humane system for those who have faced hunger, poverty, and injustice.”

“Over the last several years, the people of Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador have endured unimaginable suffering and instability,” Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) said. “As Central America struggles to rebuild from the 2020 hurricanes and the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, sending people back to the region should be unthinkable. The Biden administration needs to do the right thing and expand Temporary Protected Status to keep migrants from Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador in the American communities where they have built their homes.”

“The Washington Metropolitan Area, which we call home, would absolutely cease to function without the vital contributions of our brothers and sisters from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua,” said Gustavo Torres, CASA Executive Director. “Our Central American neighbors often left their homes due to endemic gang violence, natural disasters, and politically untenable circumstances, which made it impossible to continue to live and raise a family there. It is time for President Joe Biden to hear us loud and clear: We must act now to guarantee TPS protections for the hundreds of thousands who have lived in the United States for years, and many for decades.”

“I believe that all who suffer and cross the border search for a better life. I came here not to steal, but to establish a home for my family,” Maria Brito, an activist for TPS from Guatemala, said. “We want TPS for all our brothers and sisters from Central America. Mr. President, please listen to us and extend TPS for Central America.”

This rally was the flagship event in the week of action, a nationwide push that saw activities in more than a dozen states ranging from rallies to social media campaigns, community outreach events, and campaigns with local officials. 

What is TPS? With the work permit and legal protection from deportation, TPS allows individuals of a designated country to live in the United States because their country conditions make safe return impossible. The conditions that allow a country to qualify for TPS are: ongoing armed conflict; natural disaster, or epidemic; other extraordinary and temporary conditions.  The number of individuals who would be eligible for TPS if the administration redesignated TPS for El Salvador is 523,000; 409,400 for Honduras, and 35,500 for Nicaragua. 662,500 individuals from Guatemala would be eligible if an initial designation was issued for the country, for a total of 1,630,400 eligible individuals from Central America. Many of those eligible have lived in the US for well over a decade.