Washington (Agenzia Fides) - Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, was joined by Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), and Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN) in sending a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, urging an 18-month extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador. TPS is a temporary, renewable, and statutorily authorized immigration status that allows individuals to remain and work lawfully in the U.S. during a period in which it is deemed unsafe for nationals of that country to return home.
El Salvador’s current TPS designation extends through March 9, 2018, however, the Department of Homeland Security is required to make a decision to terminate or extend TPS for the country by January 8, 2018. In their letter, the Catholic partners urged Secretary Nielsen to extend TPS for El Salvador, noting that "terminating TPS for El Salvador would likely destabilize this key strategic, regional partner, undermining the tremendous investments of the U.S. government".
As discussed in the USCCB/MRS trip report, Temporary Protected Status: A Vital Piece of the Central American Protection and Prosperity Puzzle El Salvador is currently in no position to safely accommodate the return of the roughly 200,000 Salvadorans who have TPS. Noting the concerning country conditions, the Catholic partners urged Secretary Nielsen to "show compassion and patience as El Salvador continues to improve its citizen security and humanitarian capacity for reception, protection, and integration". The letter also reiterated the Church's commitment to stand "ready to support measures to protect the well-being and dignity of Salvadoran families here and abroad".
Together with the Bishops' press release from the United States Episcopal Conference, Fides received testimony regarding the concern of many families living in El Salvador who have their relatives in the United States. Also some missionaries have confirmed the climate of tension that this decision by the American government on the future of Salvadoran migrants is causing. (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 22/12/2017)