RENEWED REQUEST FOR TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS FOR EL SALVADOR, HONDURAS, AND GUATEMALA IN LIGHT OF CONTINUED INJUNCTION IN UNITED STATES V. TEXAS
Dear President Obama:
We, the 380 undersigned organizations that serve and advocate for the rights of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, write to request that the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issue new Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, in light of the continued injunction of the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). TPS for these countries, which comprise the Northern Triangle of Central America, would provide a temporary stay of removal and employment authorization to approximately 1.2 million individuals whose safety may otherwise be in jeopardy if deported and represent a significant executive action on immigration that your Administration can take during its last months in office.
In support of this expansion, over 100 immigration and administrative law professors recently stated that you not only have the legal authority for this course of action but that such expansion would likely be immune to most of types of legal challenges.
On June 24, 2015, the United States Supreme Court released its long awaited ruling in Texas v. United States, a tie decision that affirmed the injunction against the expansion of DACA and DAPA. Projected to provide affirmative relief to over five million individuals, the continued injunction of these initiatives is devastating to undocumented immigrants and mixedstatus families. We will continue to fight for these initiatives and are heartened that the Department of Justice filed a motion for rehearing before the Supreme Court. However, our communities, who suffer firsthand the indignities and devastation of our nation’s dysfunctional immigration system, can no longer wait for the resolution of this litigation or the perpetual promise of comprehensive immigration reform.
The United States v. Texas decision does not obviate your Administration’s responsibility or authority to provide relief during the final portion of your term. And yet, in response to the Court’s decision, you stated that you “have pushed to the limits of [your] executive authority,” “don’t anticipate that there are additional executive actions,” and have “butted up about as far as [you] can on” immigration executive actions. These statements are incorrect and discouraging to the communities who experience daily the brunt of our nation’s immigration enforcement system. DHS and its component agencies still have substantial legal authority to provide protection to the nation’s undocumented population. We renew the request made by over 270 nongovernmental organizations in January of 2016 that you designate Guatemala and redesignate El Salvador and Honduras for TPS.
The Northern Triangle countries have been experiencing an unprecedented surge of violence, death, and persecution, which has in turn displaced individuals and forced them to seek humanitarian assistance in the United States. The increase in families and children fleeing these countries is not an immigration issue but rather a genuine humanitarian crisis desperately needing an appropriate response. This Administration has begun to take steps that recognize this reality, including the recent announcement to expand the Central American Minors incountry refugee processing program and initiate other refugee processing in the region, for which we are grateful.
And yet, your Administration has continued to treat those individuals who could not wait to access a lengthy refugee program or who are already in the United States as economic migrants instead of refugees, restarting the failed experiment of family detention, and abridging legal and due process rights. Media, NGOs, think tanks, scholars, and many others have meticulously outlined the dangerous country conditions in these countries that would warrant new TPS designations. Indeed, UNHCR has identified a wide variety of categories of individuals in Honduras and El Salvador that likely warrant international refugee protection, including individuals resisting gangs or victims of gangs, children and youths, women and girls, LGTBQ individuals, teachers, public officials, politicians, indigenous peoples, journalists, political activists, and more.
Congress enacted a specific statutory framework to address humanitarian crises such as the one currently facing the Northern Triangle: Temporary Protected Status. TPS authorizes the Secretary to exercise his discretion to protect from deportation nationals of a country experiencing an armed conflict, natural disaster, or other “extraordinary and temporary conditions.”
Critically, Congress explicitly exempted from judicial review the Secretary’s discretion to designate a country for TPS. This bar to litigation, combined with clear statutory authority to make TPS designations, practically means that TPS is a valuable and underused exercise of executive authority that would survive legal challenges and not implicate the legal issues raised by United States v. Texas. Designating the Northern Triangle countries for TPS has widespread support with more than 200 faith groups; over 100 law professors and 22 scholars; 146 members of the House of Representatives; and 23 members of the U.S. Senate in support.
We were all devastated by the Court’s decision in United States v. Texas, with immigrant families disproportionately feeling the brunt of the consequences. Our communities will continue to fight for reform and relief but we will not continue to wait in anguished silence. We urge you to use the remaining time of your presidency to exhaust all options that would ease the suffering of the immigrant community and maintain family unity. A failure to do so risks cementing a legacy of deportation and enforcement that led to the deportation of close to three million mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters.
Thank you for your timely consideration of this request.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Jose MagañaSalgado of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center at 2027778999 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Sincerely,