“It is horrifying to think that 6,200 children born in this country to the 5,900 Salvadoran families have to contemplate being ripped from their families and their children forced out of the only country they know and they call home,” said Ana Ilarraza-Blackburn, the Latinx liaison for the NAACP of North Carolina. “It is immoral.”
Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham recently passed resolutions to uphold TPS. Although the cities cannot promise the protections of TPS, the resolution works to make TPS holders feel welcome and supported in their respective communities.
The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a country for TPS when extreme temporary conditions, such as armed conflict or natural disaster, prevent the country’s citizens from returning safely. The Department of Homeland Security cannot detain a TPS holder based on their immigration status. TPS also guarantees TPS holders can obtain an employment authorization document.
The decision to end the TPS designation for El Salvador, announced Jan. 8, came only about two months after DHS terminated the TPS designation for Haiti.
The Center for American Progress said 13,100 TPS holders from El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras reside in North Carolina along with their 11,600 U.S.-born children.North Carolina’s GDP will lose $570.1 million annually without TPS holders from El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras, according to the report.
Salvadoran TPS holders must return to El Salvador or obtain a green card by Sept. 9, 2019. After that date, DHS considers Salvadoran TPS holders undocumented immigrants, making them vulnerable to detention and deportation.
The termination of TPS could separate families like Vasquez’s. Because Vasquez had her youngest child in the U.S., he could remain in the country as a U.S. citizen. Vasquez, however, and potentially her two older children, who came to the U.S. as kids, needs to find another way to stay in America. She said returning to El Salvador remains a last resort.
“We would fight until we found a last ditch effort to stay,” said Vasquez. “My kids don’t know El Salvador. They came here when they were too young.”
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allows people who came to America as children to continue to study and work in the country, previously promised temporary security for TPS holders such as Vasquez’s older children. However, the fate of DACA is unclear under the Trump administration.
El Centro Hispano will host several legal clinics in February to help TPS holders find other avenues for staying in the country.
Eliazar Posada, the community engagement and advocacy manager at El Centro Hispano, said the disappearance of TPS holders in North Carolina will greatly impact communities across the state.
“We are going to be losing businesses, we are going to be losing folks who are not only working but owning different businesses,” Posada said. “Families are going to have to decide if it is worth it moving back to a country that is still not at the point that it can take so many people.”
While organizations like El Centro Hispano will continue to fight for TPS protections, TPS is only a temporary solution. El Centro Hispano’s immigration attorney Bridgette Richards said the real solution will come with immigration reform.
Until then, Chapel Hill Town Council member Michael Parker said the town will continue to fight for TPS recipients.
“They are us,” said Parker. “They live in our communities, they work in our communities. They are friends and they’re neighbors. These are folks who live in our communities who deserve to be welcomed and protected."