WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.), along with Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), led 25 of their Senate colleagues in sending a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in support of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders. The letter requests that an 18 month extension of status for TPS holders be included in the December appropriations package.
Established in 1990, TPS is a renewable program that allows foreign nationals to legally live and work in the United States if they are unable to safely return to their home country due to natural disasters, armed conflicts, or other extraordinary conditions. Like millions across the country, TPS holders are facing unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic. They also carry the additional burden of fear and uncertainty that they may need to leave the country as soon as March 2021 because of the actions of the Trump Administration. Maryland is home to 22,500 TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti. Nationally, more than 130,000 TPS holders are essential workers – including more than 6,600 in Maryland.
The lawmakers wrote, “We write today to urge you to include extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and related employment authorizations to current TPS recipients from El Salvador, Haiti, Sudan, Nicaragua, Nepal, and Honduras in the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations package or next continuing resolution. Hundreds of thousands of TPS recipients, many of whom have lived in the United States for more than 20 years, are facing the pandemic and an economic recession while also fearing the need to leave the United States.”
“Months into the coronavirus pandemic, essential workers are clearly vital to our country’s response,” the lawmakers continued. “More than 130,000 TPS recipients from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti are essential workers, serving in positions in the health care, food, transportation, and other sectors that the Department of Homeland Security has labeled ‘needed to maintain the services and functions Americans depend on daily and that need to be able to operate resiliently during the COVID-19 pandemic response.’ These workers do not have the option to stay at home, and instead are putting their own health and the health of their families at risk in order to serve their communities.”
Last year, recognizing the important contributions that TPS recipients and their families make in their communities, the Senators introduced the Safe Environment from Countries Under Repression and Emergency (SECURE) Act to provide TPS recipients with the opportunity to apply for permanent residency and be on the pathway to citizenship. Senators Cardin and Van Hollen also support the bipartisan Dream and Promise Act, which has passed the House of Representatives. Today’s letter also follows a September letter in which Senators Van Hollen, Cardin, and Feinstein urged Senate leadership to include employment protections for TPS holders in any coronavirus relief package.
The full text of today’s letter is available here.