April 21, 2023

Cortez Masto and Colleagues Call For Temporary Protected Status Redesignation for El Salvador and Honduras

Reno, Nev. – Today, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and 117 lawmakers in both chambers of Congress are calling on the Biden administration to continue to protect displaced Salvadorans and Hondurans by redesignating El Salvador and Honduras for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

“We urge you to redesignate Honduras and El Salvador for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), as it is unsafe for the nationals of these countries to be returned at this time due to severe environmental damage caused by successive hurricanes and climate change-related catastrophes, combined with human rights violations and cascading political crises exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Both El Salvador and Honduras face separate but equally devastating realities that prevent individuals who have fled these countries from safely returning,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Established by the U.S. Congress through the Immigration Act of 1990, TPS is a temporary, renewable program that provides relief from removal and access to work permits for eligible foreign nationals who are unable to return safely to their home countries due to natural disasters, armed conflicts, or other extraordinary conditions. Over 400,000 people with TPS are currently living in communities across the United States—including about 6,300 TPS holders in Nevada—where they fill important gaps in our local economies and contribute billions of dollars every year in taxes. TPS for El Salvador was designated in 2001 and for Honduras in 1999.

Regarding El Salvador, the lawmakers continued: “According to the U.S. State Department’s 2022 country report, there have been significant human rights issues in the country, including credible reports of ‘unlawful or arbitrary killings, forced disappearances; torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by security forces; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention.’ Furthermore, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights named El Salvador the most dangerous Latin American country for women as it reported the highest number of murders of women in Latin America and the Caribbean. Each of these human rights violations mean that Salvadorans living outside of the country are unable to return to the country safely at this time.”

Regarding Honduras, the lawmakers wrote: “The 2021 general elections faced unprecedented levels of political violence. Deadly attacks on municipal and congressional candidates and their supporters more than doubled in 2021, and at least 68 municipal or congressional candidates were murdered leading up to election day. Further, the U.S. State Department’s 2022 country report on human rights practices in Honduras concludes that there have been significant human rights issues in the country, including criminal groups committing acts of ‘homicide, torture, kidnapping, extortion, human trafficking, intimidation, and other threats and violence,’ particularly against vulnerable populations, including human rights defenders, judicial authorities, women, and ethnic minorities. …The ongoing humanitarian crises in Honduras coupled with the devastating impact of the environmental disasters, makes the safe return of Honduran TPS holders and those eligible for TPS inconceivable.”

TPS for both El Salvador and Honduras is in jeopardy because of actions by the Trump administration that Senator Cortez Masto strongly opposed. Redesignating El Salvador and Honduras for TPS would ensure that current TPS recipients and those eligible for TPS from these countries receive needed protection.

The letter is supported by Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), AFL-CIO, African Communities Together (ACT), Nicaraguan American Human Rights Alliance, NAHRA, Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center, Strangers No Longer (Michigan), Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP), America’s Voice, CASA, National Partnership for New Americans, UndocuBlack Network, Arcadia MGMT, Family Action Network Movement, Nigerian Center, Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, Venezuelan American Caucus, Indivisible, Community Change, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, National Immigrant Justice Center, Alianza Americas, National Immigrant Justice Center, International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), Church World Service, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), UnidosUS, Immigrant Defenders Law Center, Central American Resource Center of Northern CA - CARECEN SF, Central American Resource Center of DC, Oxfam America, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Dorothy Day Catholic Workers (DC), Save the Children, Franciscan Action Network, Immigration Hub, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Care in Action, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Communities United for Status & Protection (CUSP), Central American Resource Center (CARECEN-LA), National TPS Alliance, Working Families United, National Roofing Contractors Association, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), North Carolina Justice Center, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), United We Dream, and Make the Road New York.

Full text of the letter is available HERE and follows below. 

The first and only Latina Senator, Senator Cortez Masto has consistently supported immigrant communities in Nevada, calling on the administration to take action to protect TPS holders and other immigrants, as well as leading commonsense legislation to fix our broken immigration system. She has worked to pass meaningful immigration reform that balances critical border security measures with a path to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS holders, and essential workers, and she’s pushed  legislation to allow Dreamers and TPS holders to work in Congress.