More than a quarter million undocumented immigrants are said to be eligible for temporary protection as the Obama administration conducts deportation raids.
"Relief Not Raids"
The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (IRLC) released a report, titled "Relief Not Raids," stating that more than 750,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras would likely receive Temporary Status Protection (TPS), which may provide immigrants with employment authorization and brief deferred action from deportation if they cannot safely arrive to their home countries.
The report comes as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson confirmed the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency performed raids on immigrant individuals and family during the weekend following New Years.
"Immigration raids are a grossly inappropriate and ineffective response to a genuine humanitarian crisis," said IRLC Immigration Policy Attorney Jose Magaña-Salgado in a statement, who also authored the report. "Instead, President Obama must exercise his legal authority to expand Temporary Protected Status to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras as individuals from those countries simply cannot safely return to their homes. To do otherwise would be to continue sending Central American refugees to their deaths."
The IRLC wrote that the Obama administration has the legal authority to categorize the three Central American countries for TPS due to ongoing conflicts in the aforementioned Latin American nations. The report noted that approximately 83 nationals deported to El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras between January 2015 and September 2015 were murdered -- mostly in El Salvador with 45 murders.
"Unprecedented violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala has caused a humanitarian crisis that has forced migrants from those countries seek refuge in the United States," said ILRC Founder Bill Hing. "Unfortunately, our nation's response of detention and prioritizing the removal of unaccompanied children and mothers with children has resulted in a human rights crisis of our own making."
Based on finding from the DHS and Pew Research Center, ILRC found that designating TPS for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras would potentially give nearly 1.2 million more people TPS eligibility, yet only 757,422 would actually receive TPS status due to "various eligibility criteria and application requirements."
"To reverse the path toward an indignity that our nation will come to regret, the Obama Administration should grant Temporary Protected Status to those who have fled the violence," added Hing."
Additional Calls for TPS
As Latin Post reported, and as IRLC acknowledged in its report, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and146 members of the House of Representatives have called on the Obama administration to stop the deportation campaign and expand TPS.
The 146 representatives also released a letter addressed to Obama to grant TPS until his administration develops a comprehensive refugee solution.
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., in her prepared remarks," had said, "Our letter to President Obama, with over 100 signatures from Members of Congress, simply asks the president to suspend removal operations of Central American refugee women and children and to grant them Temporary Protected Status until the Administration has a comprehensive refugee strategy in place that provides adequate screening, meaningful legal counsel and due process, and a comprehensive regional approach that will ensure these refugee women and children have a fair chance to live in safety."
On Wednesday, the Obama administration, through the State Department, announced its U.S. Refugee Admissions Program will help individuals and families from the three Central American countries. The program, however, was met with subdued reaction.
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