Bishops' migration chairman asks for extension of immigration status

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn


WASHINGTON (CNS) — The head of the U.S. bishops’ Committee
on Migration said some migrants from Honduras and El Salvador cannot safely
return to their home countries in the near future and should have a special immigration
permit extended.

The U.S. government will consider in early November whether
to extend, for some migrants hailing from the two countries, what’s known as
Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. The designation is for those who come to the U.S. from
certain countries because of a natural disaster, continuing armed conflict or
other extraordinary conditions. The status for Honduras and El Salvador is set to expire
in early 2018.

“There is ample evidence to suggest that current TPS
recipients from Honduras and El Salvador cannot return safely to their home
country at this time,” said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of
the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration. He cited a
report issued by bishops’ Office of Migration and Refugee Services titled “Temporary
Protected Status: A Vital Piece of the Central American Protection and
Prosperity Puzzle.”

The report recommends that the U.S. government extend TPS
for some 257,000 people from El Salvador and Honduras in the U.S., who
currently have a work permit and reprieve from deportation.

In a letter of introduction to the report, Bishop Vasquez said: “As you read this report, I urge you to
keep the people of El Salvador and Honduras, including TPS recipients, in your
thoughts and prayers. I encourage you to engage the administration in
requesting a TPS extension for El Salvador and Honduras . . . and to reach out
to your elected congressional leaders to request they support a legislative
solution for TPS recipients who have been in the United States for many years.”

Advocates worry because the Department of Homeland Security,
under the Trump administration, has signaled reluctance to extend the status
for other countries.

In mid-September, the Trump administration announced the end
of TPS for nationals from the North African nation of Sudan, prompting
outcry from Catholic groups who say they worry about the conditions the
migrants will face upon their return. Though the administration said it is safe
for them to return, the U.S. Department of State warned against travel to the
country because of “risks of terrorism, armed conflict and violent

Haitians who obtained TPS after the country’s devastating 2010
earthquake, also are waiting to learn whether they’ll have to return to an
unstable country, since DHS also has signaled it plans to end TPS status for the
Caribbean nation. Catholic groups and others have said it is not safe for them
to return because of instability on the island.

In a similar way, the report says Honduras is a “fragile
state” and unable to accommodate the return of a large number of its nationals.
El Salvador, too, has a pervasive crime problem, as well as other social ills, and,
too, would face hardship with a return of large numbers of nationals, it says.

The report is based on the findings of a delegation from the USCCB and MRS that visited Honduras and El Salvador Aug. 13-19 to examine conditions in those countries and whether they can “adequately receive and integrate the possible return of
existing TPS recipients.”

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Editors: The full text of the report can be found at:

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