With the arrival of Election Day 2020, moments of anxiety are also triggered for the Salvadoran Joaquín Guimardo, 52, who has “clearly understood” that an eventual re-election of President Donald Trump could mean, in the term of a few months, a great abyss: the loss of his immigration status, a deportation order and consequently separation from his family. In conclusion, as he himself sums up, “the end of his whole life.”
Joaquín, who came to New York in 1989, is just one of the 400,000 immigrants nationwide who suffer the ‘sentence’ which means that the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program for immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Sudan and Haiti be removed completely.
“I came over 20 years ago fleeing a war. Here I started a gardening company, here I had my two daughters, here I built my life”, Says the Central American about who weighs an anguish that he has endured for three years.
Since 2018, the federal government decided to put an end to the TPS that benefits countries like El Salvador that have suffered humanitarian crises due to wars and natural disasters. Only a sequence of judicial decisions have prolonged and given a I breathe this immigration relief.
“When last September the Court of Appeals agreed with Trump and decided that They will eliminate TPS, I kept seeing my two daughters who were born here. Then I saw the machinery that I have acquired with a lot of sweat to provide a quality service ”, shared the immigrant.
The argument of the Trump Administration to completely cross out this immigration benefit is that armed conflicts in Central America and the repercussions of natural phenomena have already been overcome.
No plan B
Joaquín started his life in this country working as a gardener in ‘The Hamptons’, a summer pole for wealthy New York families. The immigrant recognizes that unfortunately a “minimum group of his countrymen” have done much damage to the image of immigration by getting involved in gangs and criminal activities.
“This is the country with one of the most advanced police investigation teams in the world. I think it’s very easy to honestly check who came to work and pay their taxes. But also determine who came to do the wrong thing, so that they separate us and put us in different groups”Reasoned the Salvadoran born in Conchagua.
Today Joaquín with a daughter who is about to enter university, lives on the edge of the uncertainty of the results of the presidential elections, like thousands of ‘Tepesianos’, who have built a life and seen their children born in this country.
“I don’t have plan B. It will be that I will have to sell the four things that I have. It will be that I can be calm because my daughters are American citizens. It will be that my wife and I will see what we do if at some point we become illegal. Or do we not have to go? “he wondered anguished.
Besides 400,000 protected immigrants, it is projected that the eventual end of this benefit established in 1990 under the presidency of George W. Bush, affects more than 200,000 children born in the United States, such as Joaquín’s two daughters.
“My girls are on their way to study. One wants to be a nurse and another a doctor. Sometimes I talk to my wife and in the midst of this anguish, we wonder if we have to go to a nearby country if Trump wins, to be close to them. This is horrible! ” says the Salvadoran between sobs.
Salvadoran activist Guillermo Chacón, founder and president of the NY Hispanic Health Network, qualify TPS as one of the immigration programs “Most successful in this country”. He states that trying to stop it is a great contradiction in the face of the economic challenges brought by the pandemic and the need to incorporate young workforce to certain economic sectors in the next years.
“The only explanation I can find for this obsession to eliminate this program is that the beneficiaries are not European white. This is a tragedy for hundreds of families that have made this country great, but also for the challenges of economic recovery, ”said Chacón.
According to a report by Center for American Progress that detailed a clear demographic profile of the beneficiaries of this program, it is revealed that more than 130,000 of these immigrants have served as essential workers amid the public health crisis caused by COVID-19.
At least 131,300 immigrants with TPS from El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti played key roles in the midst of the emergency.
Of that number, at least 11,600 are healthcare workers performed tasks in the states most affected by the coronavirus such as New York and California.
- In 2017 and 2018, Trump administration ended TPS designations for El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan, which was blocked by the courts.
- On September 14, 2020, a federal appeals court issued a decision allowing the termination of TPS for these countries.
- The beneficiaries of TPS of El Salvador They will have the possibility of legal status until at least November 5, 2021.
- The ‘Tepesians” of Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan continue to have TPS until at least March 5, 2021.
- Haitian beneficiaries continue to have TPS status, amid a separate court order.
- 15,000 ‘tespesians’ roughly in the Big Apple.