Senate Democrats push Biden admin for deportation protection for millions of Central Americans

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Senate Democrats urge the Biden administration to use its authority to protect what could be millions more Central Americans from deportation – as lawmakers and Democratic activists continue to seek ways to grant amnesty and other protections for illegal immigrants.

In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, 33 Democrats led by Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urge the administration to re-appoint El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua for temporary protection status. (TPS) and create a new designation for Guatemala.

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“We believe that the severe damage caused by the consecutive hurricanes just over a year ago, combined with extreme drought conditions and the social and economic crises exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, justify such action by the part of the administration. ,” they wrote.

The TPS protects nationals of designated countries living in the United States from potential deportation if they are eligible and also allows them to apply for work permits, while giving them the freedom to travel. El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua have TPS designations but the registration periods have expired.

Democrats say the designation and new designations “would provide essential protections to eligible beneficiaries and enable them to meet the basic needs of their loved ones back home and to invest in safer alternatives to irregular migration.” They also say it could be consistent with the administration’s commitment to tackle “climate migration”.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York speaks at a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, January 4, 2022 (AP Photo / Susan Walsh)
((AP Photo / Susan Walsh))

The letter cites a number of justifications for the move, including increased food insecurity, violence and “rising social tensions” in the wake of natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lawmakers say such appointments would give the United States more time to partner with governments to ensure their return “does not create more instability and volatility.”

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Reuters cited estimates that the designation expansion could cover more than 2 million Central Americans, but those estimates were made before the massive border crisis that erupted last year – meaning the number could be even higher now.

Separately, Democrats have also pushed for granting a path to citizenship for GST holders both in a broad immigration reform program and as part of the budget reconciliation bill. Senator Menendez has been a key lawmaker in both of these efforts.

Those efforts were torpedoed in 2021 as the immigration program failed to win Republican support, and the budget reconciliation program – which would have passed without Republican support – lost the support of Sen. Joe Manchin, DW. Goes. Lawmakers and advocates have pledged to continue promoting immigration protection in 2022.

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The Biden administration nominated Haiti for the TPS last year for 18 months amid the country’s security challenges, poverty and human rights abuses. In August, the administration extended registration periods for TPS recipients from Venezuela, Syria and Burma.

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