Why We Need to Save Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
The U.S. Congress created Temporary Protected Status (TPS) as part of the Immigration Act of 1990 to provide temporary immigration relief for members of countries facing ongoing armed conflict, natural disasters, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. TPS allows beneficiaries to receive temporary relief from deportation, an Employment Authorization Document, and the possibility to travel abroad. The U.S. currently provides TPS to over 300,000 foreign nationals from 10 countries, including El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
Nearly three decades later, TPS recipients have been living in the U.S. for many years, working legally, paying taxes, and contributing to the economy. The Center for Migration Studies reports that 81 to 88 percent of TPS recipients are working, predominately in construction, restaurants and other food industries, landscaping services, child day care services, and grocery stores. Despite their economic contributions, Congress has not taken any action to extend TPS or to provide recipients the opportunity to become permanent residents or citizens. For example, TPS recipients from El Salvador have been renewing their status for more than 15 years.
These immigrants are an important part of the U.S. workforce and an essential part of many local communities. Recent data estimate that TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti contribute a combined $4.5 billion in pre-tax wages or salary income annually to our nation's gross domestic product. The total number of Social Security and Medicare contributions of these individuals is estimated at more than $6.9 billion over a decade. Almost 200,000 Central American TPS holders live in California, Florida, Texas, and New York, and over a fourth (roughly 58,000) of them are estimated to be homeowners. If subjected to immigration enforcement, nearly 30,000 of them are estimated to lose their homes within a year of the designation changes.
Supported by AFL-CIO, BAC along with Unite Here, IUPAT, UFCW, and the Iron Workers launched an immigrant workers advocacy coalition called Working Families United in November 2017. This national alliance focuses on saving TPS for tens of thousands union workers in construction, hospitality, and trades who would lose their legal status if TPS is not extended.
BAC President James Boland said, "There are many things to say about people with TPS - they are taxpayers; they are parents to almost 300,000 children; and centrally they are workers in every industry." Ending TPS would be irresponsible for our economy, negatively impact families and communities, and against our fundamental values of fairness and justice. TPS recipients not only need an extension, but should be offered a pathway to a more permanent status in the United States.