WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement in response to the Trump Administration announcement that Salvadorans who have been in the United States on Temporary Protect Status (TPS) would be forced to return to El Salvador by Sept. 9, 2019.
“Instilling fear in vulnerable children and families should not be the American way, but it seems to be a recurring pattern with the Trump Administration. This latest in a string of ill-advised immigration decisions will have a devastating impact on the American and Salvadoran families currently living in the United States. It isn’t right and it runs counter to the American values that built this great Nation.
“I am concerned about what will happen to these individuals – many mixed nationality families – who have been a part of American communities for so long. For nearly a decade, the country has consistently suffered per capita murder rates that have been among the worst in the world. In 2016, the people of El Salvador were victims of over 5,200 homicides, an alarming rate of more than 80 per 100,000 people and the highest globally. El Salvador has limited capacity to absorb the nearly 200,000 individuals who could be subject to immediate deportation. We welcomed these individuals to America to save them from danger; the Trump Administration cannot inject them back without regard for their safety and current circumstances on the ground in El Salvador.
“We also must take into account the more than 190,000 U.S. born children – American citizens – who have Salvadoran parents that are TPS beneficiaries. Forcing these parents to return to El Salvador would create unnecessary burdens and separate families. In Maryland alone, 19,800 Salvadorans in are TPS holders, and 17,100 U.S.-born children in Maryland have Salvadoran parents who are TPS holders. 18,000 workers in Maryland are Salvadoran TPS holders, and $1.1 billion would be lost from state GDP annually without Salvadoran workers who hold TPS.
“I call on my colleagues to take up our legislation to create a pathway to legal residency for hundreds of thousands of TPS recipients who call America their home. Let’s do it now. Such a bill is truly in line with America’s values. It’s the right thing to do.”
Last month, Senator Cardin wrote a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen requesting an 18-month extension of the existing Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for nearly 200,000 Salvadoran nationals currently living in the United States. In November, he requested documentation from the State Department regarding their TPS decision-making process. Additionally, along with Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Cardin has introduced S. 2144, the Safe Environment from Countries Under Repression and in Emergency (SECURE) Act. This legislation would allow qualified Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients to apply for legal permanent residency. A one-page summary of the legislation can be found here. The text of the bill can be found here.