Archbishop José H. Gomez today issued the following statement on the termination of Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for more than 200,000 Salvadorans living in the U.S.
Catholics this week are celebrating 50th anniversary of National Migration Week (Jan. 7-13), an annual time of reflection on the contributions that immigrants and refugees continue to make to our economy and culture here in the United States.
And we were struck this morning by news that our government was ending a vital program, Temporary Protective Status (TPS), which has been helping more than 200,000 refugees who came to this country fleeing violence and instability in El Salvador, including some 49,000 living here in California.
What this means in practical terms is that our nation will be forcing these 200,000 to return to their home country, which still does not have adequate resources for receiving or protecting these people or integrating them into society.
As the U.S. bishops and other religious leaders stated last month in a letter to the Acting Director of Homeland Security: “The country suffers from widespread housing shortages, lack of access to clean water, disease and food insecurity as a result of the 2001 earthquakes and subsequent natural disasters.”
Many of these 200,000 Salvadoran TPS recipients are parents — and about 190,200 of their children were born in this country and are U.S. citizens.
This is the only country these children have ever known. Now these families face a hard decision about their future — either stay together and go back to El Salvador to face likely violence and exploitation or separate possibly permanently so that the children can remain here in safety, with all the benefits of U.S. citizenship.
This is an inhumane choice that no one should have to make.
Our country has always been a beacon of hope for the rest of the world. I pray that the government will reconsider this decision and find ways to permit these families to stay and find ways to give them a permanent path to residency and citizenship.
In the meantime, the Catholic community will continue to walk with our brothers and sisters from El Salvador, opening our hearts to their families in love and charity and welcoming the gifts they bring to this great nation.
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