TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal has joined a coalition of state attorneys general in urging Congress to pass legislation to protect foreign nationals who face possible deportation because the U.S. Department of Homeland Security terminated their federal Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations.
Approximately 10,000 foreign nationals from Haiti and El Salvador live and work in New Jersey under the protection of TPS designations granted years ago – after both countries suffered natural catastrophes. Their removal from the U.S. – and from the local work force – could result in hundreds of millions of dollars leaving the state’s economy. There are also thousands of U.S.-born children living in New Jersey whose parents who are TPS holders from Haiti and El Salvador.
Under federal law, TPS provides temporary protected status to foreign nationals in the U.S. from countries experiencing armed conflict, natural disaster or other extraordinary conditions.
Here, the Secretary of Homeland Security did not determine that allowing TPS holders from Haiti and El Salvador to stay in the U.S. temporarily was against U.S. interests. Instead, she found that conditions in Haiti and El Salvador no longer support their TPS designations. But as a multi-state letter to Congress joined by Attorney General Grewal explains, both Haiti and El Salvador remain “too dangerous to permit the safe return of their nationals.”
“TPS beneficiaries are homeowners and business owners, and have become valued wage-earners and members of the communities in which they live here in New Jersey,” said Attorney General Grewal. “If no action is taken, thousands of our neighbors will face a return to unsafe conditions in the countries from which they fled, and also confront potential harm to their families in the form of distance, separation and dislocation. This will harm our communities and Congress has the power to stop it.”
Haiti was originally designated for TPS eight years ago after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that occurred on January 12, 2010. The designation has been repeatedly renewed by Homeland Security based on such subsequent factors as a cholera epidemic, multiple hurricanes and food shortages.
El Salvador’s current TPS designation began on March 9, 2001, after a series of earthquakes. Homeland Security has renewed the designation 13 times based on additional hurricanes, flooding and food shortages, as well as political instability and related public safety and economic challenges.
The Trump Administration announced an end to TPS designations for Haitian nationals in late 2017, and added El Salvadoran nationals in January 2018.
The multi-state letter urges Congress to use its authority to “provide lawful temporary or permanent status” for TPS beneficiaries who will soon lose their protection from removal.
“Unless Congress acts to protect these individuals, families will be torn apart, our communities will be harmed, and hundreds of thousands of long-time residents will have to return to countries that are not yet prepared to take them in, or attempt to remain in this country illegally,” the letter concludes.
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