Resist Trump, Keep Immigrant Protections

Temporary protected status on chopping block

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Illustration by Franky Oliveras

The White House’s assault on people of color grows more aggressive by the day, as the latest attack comes in the form of deporting protected immigrants back to potentially life-threatening conditions.

Immigrant families have been systematically oppressed at the hands of U.S. immigration policy, but the Trump administration is further worsening their conditions. The Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program offers a safety net for those it covers, but the administration may soon dismantle the program and destroy what little protection it gave.

TPS protects both documented and undocumented immigrants from deportation if they come from one of the 10 countries on the current list. These are countries suffering from natural disasters, armed conflicts or other extraordinary  conditions.

In the Trump administration’s fervent efforts to curb immigration for people of color, the TPS program — along with all its beneficiaries — has been designated as the next victim.

TPS, along with other humanitarian aid programs, is in some ways a lackluster apology for atrocities committed by countries including the U.S. The program is the least we can do to make up for ruining entire nations through economic pillaging and regime change.

Nicaragua, Sudan, Haiti and El Salvador are currently being considered for removal from the TPS protections list. It’s no wonder these countries were chosen. After all, Trump infamously described them as “shithole countries,” a statement that made crystal clear his bigoted viewpoints that fuel his decisions.

Aborting countries’ TPS eligibility is supposed to occur when those countries have rebuilt infrastructure or become sufficiently safe for return, and the countries in question are nowhere near meeting those qualifications. San Salvador is considered one of the world’s most dangerous cities due to U.S.-initiated gang violence, with 137 murders per 100,000 people in 2016. Haiti has yet to rebuild completely since the earthquake in 2010.

TPS status for these countries has continued longer than originally intended due to the harsh conditions still present. Discontinuing the program for those countries will yield disaster if thousands of immigrants are forced to return, when the nations in question are unable to properly receive them.

The Trump administration’s campaign against immigration has consistently shut the door on people around the world who need that opening the most. Deporting hundreds of thousands of people back to the conditions from which they escaped shows an egregious lack of empathy for people in dire need of basic support.

Some protected immigrants from these countries have lived here for decades and have children that only know the U.S. as their home. Facing deportation, immigrants will have to make a choice between endangering their children by bringing them along, or leaving them to foster care and breaking apart their  families.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, claimed the removals were merely following policy.“We need to put the ‘T’ back into T.P.S.,” he said to the New York Times. “It has to be temporary. This has gone on far too long.”

However, TPS is one of the many policies that benefits from wider interpretation. Previous administrations have revoked TPS for certain countries, but chose to extend the protections for countries that remained unstable.

Ending these TPS protections means knowingly placing people in harm’s way. Trump’s racism clearly shows through his actions, making his desire to terminate the status for these people unconstitutional.

Though the constant fight for basic rights is disheartening, people are taking action to call out the administration’s corrupt practices.

Edward Chen, a federal judge based in San Francisco, temporarily blocked the termination of TPS status for El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Sudan on Oct 3. The decision will remain in effect until a full trial is held in the future at a yet undetermined date.

Pushback against Trump’s decision to rescind DACA was immediate, but his move to cancel TPS for these countries has gone largely uncontested. Beneficiaries of TPS are as much members of our communities as anyone else. Trump’s administration may be in power, but we still have a voice. We must use it to resist the cycle of discrimination.

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