The Trump administration has announced that it’s ending temporary protected status for nearly 57,000 Hondurans living in the U.S. TPS gives legal status to migrants who are already in the U.S. when their country suffers a conflict or natural disaster.
Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson discusses the decision and its potential impacts with Martin Pineda (@chevive91), an organizer with the Central American Resource Center, and Marta Connor, a TPS holder from Honduras living in Southern California.
On what the decision to end temporary protected status could mean
Marta Connor: “It means for me, separation of families. All those families, they have their children here, some of them even have grandchildren. And that means separation.
“With this administration, there’s a high, high … possibility that [I will be separated from my children]. But my hopes are really high. And the National TPS Alliance, we are working together to see if we could change the mentality of this administration.”
Martin, on what he’s advising people like Marta to do
Martin Pineda: “I’m an organizer for the Central American Resource Center, and then we anchor what is called the National TPS Alliance. So what that is, it’s a collective of TPS holders who, we’re helping them build their leadership so they can fight for themselves. We don’t want to be the voice for them when they have all the right to speak on behalf of themselves and what they’ve contributed to this country and what this means for them and their humanity. So we advise all TPS holders to get informed of what their rights are, of what the ongoing efforts [are] right now for a more permanent solution for TPS.”
On possible action that TPS holders could take if Congress or President Trump don’t act on their behalf
MP: “At this moment right now, there’s different kinds of adjustments that could be made. For example, like in certain states, if you have U.S. citizen children of age 21 or older who can petition for you. There’s different varieties of ways to get adjustments of status. But in reality for the larger population of TPS holders, at this moment, there is no pathway to citizenship or residency at this moment.”
Marta, on if she tried to get her citizenship over the last 20 years
MC: “Yes. My husband did apply for my residence, and he passed away. And the appointment for my residence came six months after he passed away. And there was a law that said that if your husband was only a resident, that I was not going to be able to get my residence, so I didn’t at that time. So that’s why I’m a TPS holder right now.”
On if she ever thought she’d have to return to Honduras at some point
MC: “No, because I have my children here. The situation in my country is not the one that I want my kids to … I didn’t want them to live in that situation that I lived. Not even when I didn’t have the TPS, I was not thinking to take them back over there. So it never crossed my mind to go back.”
On those who point to the word “temporary” in temporary protected status
MP: “After 20 years, there’s nothing temporary about it, I would say. I mean, there’s a lot of different conditions why TPS was created. I mean, you could say it was the natural disasters, but the conditions in Central America have never been good. There’s always been instability to this day and age in Honduras, as conditions have only gotten worse. There’s political unrest, there’s human rights violations every day, and particularly the Salvadoran community who fled the civil war and were seeking political asylum, many were denied. And I mean, there’s a lot of U.S. intervention in these countries that caused a lot of the conditions why people leave.
“So I mean after 20 years, ‘temporary’ is just not … people have established their families, they’ve built homes, they’ve established businesses and I think they’ve been long overdue for a more permanent solution. TPS holders, they’re a lot more than their contributions. They’re human beings who have left their whole life here and they have no intention of going back, because they fled for a reason, it’s not just because they were seeking a better life.”
On efforts moving forward
MC: “I’m going to continue fighting. I am a member of the National TPS Alliance. I’m not only a member, but I’m also a person who fights, and moves, and I’m just telling people to come out and speak their voice, because we have rights here in this country. We’ve been living here for so long. When I hear ‘temporary,’ it’s like, OK, we already … we have homes here. We have businesses here, we have our children, our grandchildren. So we just can’t pick up and go to a country — especially for our children to move to a country where they really … this is their country. This is their country. And also we as TPS holders, we recognize this country as our country, too. And we have been paying our taxes, and working. We’re very hard-working people here.”