Delegation Visits TPS Countries to Document Violence and Poverty in Central America

Immigrant Rights, Racial Justice

Fact-Finding Delegation Travels to Central American Countries Reeling from TPS Cancellation to Observe and Document Poverty and Violence

May 24, 2018 — Today, Centro Presente, Alianza Americas, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice announced that they will be jointly sending a delegation of community leaders, social justice advocates, and civil rights lawyers to observe and document country conditions and the state of human rights in El Salvador and Honduras — both countries recently rocked by devastating news that their designation for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) would be cancelled. The delegation will closely examine the poverty and violence that TPS recipient families and children would confront in Central America if they are forcibly deported by the Trump Administration. The delegation will be in Central America from May 28 to June 1, and key findings will be made available to policymakers and the general public after the trip.

TPS provides safe haven in the United States for foreign nationals who are unable to return to their countries of origin because of humanitarian, environmental crisis or political upheaval that may prevent their safe return. Earthquakes and hurricanes, displacing millions of people, led to TPS designations for Honduras in 1999 and El Salvador in 2001. As both Republican and Democratic Administrations have consistently found since then, stagnant economies, food insecurity, extreme gang violence, gender-based violence, and ill-functioning infrastructure have continued to make these countries unsafe for their nationals to return.

In an abrupt departure from these findings, however, the Trump Administration recently announced its decision to terminate TPS status for both El Salvador and Honduras. Neither of these countries has the capacity to receive a massive influx of returning immigrants or ensure their well-being and safety.

The Lawyers’ Committee and Centro Presente filed a landmark federal lawsuit in Boston against the Trump Administration to save TPS for Salvadoran and Honduran immigrants. The lawsuit challenges the decision to terminate TPS designation for El Salvador and Honduras, citing discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity and/or national origin. The complaint for this lawsuit, the first in the country to be filed on behalf of Salvadorans and Hondurans, is available here.

“Honduras is not ready to receive and reintegrate immigrants that are being deported from the United States. Every year one hundred thousand Hondurans leave their country due to the level of extreme violence they confront daily. Additionally this year, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, declared that Honduras is the poorest country in Latin America displacing Haiti. According to Amnesty International, the level of insecurity and violence in Honduras has remained extremely high. Widespread corruption and impunity continues to undermine public trust in the authorities and the justice system,” said Patricia Montes, Executive Director of Centro Presente.

“This effort comes on the heels of a least a dozen delegations we have led to Central America in recent years,” said Oscar Chacón, Executive Director of Alianza Americas. “Each time we travel to the region, our first-hand experiences corroborate the disturbing data, heartbreaking anecdotes, and documented expert perspectives—including sound advice from top-level US diplomats—that paint a clear picture: Long-term TPS holders and their US-born children will not be safe in El Salvador and Honduras. Cancelling these programs and putting these families in harm’s way demonstrates a brazen disregard for the truth and for our values as a nation.”

“President Trump has made no secret of his racist views,” said Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee, citing a string of the President’s comments including equating Latino immigrants with criminals and rapists. Attorney Espinoza-Madrigal said that “the Administration’s decision to terminate TPS for El Salvador and Honduras manifests these discriminatory views,” and stated that “the Constitution does not allow governmental decision-making that is infected by this type of racial bias.”

As it stands, TPS is set to terminate for El Salvador on September 9, 2019; and for Honduras on January 5, 2020.  Rescission of TPS will have a devastating effect on immigrants from those countries who call the United States home — many of whom have U.S. citizen children — and will further destabilize already vulnerable and volatile conditions in Central America.