Bishop Seitz: Ending TPS for El Salvador Would Put Children’s Lives at Risk

Bishop Mark Seitz writes:

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must decide by Jan. 8 whether to extend or end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador. TPS was created by Congress in 1990 and allows people whose countries have experienced natural disasters, armed conflicts or exceptional situations to remain temporarily in the United States. Approximately 200,000 TPS holders from El Salvador live in the United States, primarily in California and Texas.

In August, my brother Catholic bishops led a delegation to El Salvador and Honduras to examine conditions on the ground in both countries and to assess whether those conditions merit an end to TPS, which enables roughly 260,000 Salvadorans and Honduras to live and work legally in the United States. The report they issued overwhelmingly points to large-scale protection issues if TPS holders are forced to return to their home countries, particularly El Salvador….

in my time in Central America, I also have seen incredible violence and exploitation. I have been overcome by what I have experienced in El Salvador and Honduras in terms of gang infiltration and threats to citizens’ security.

I have sat with youths who tearfully explained to me why they attempted to migrate north, forced out of their homes, extorted by gangs. I have heard from young girls who faced sexual assault and domestic abuse; teen-aged boys have spoken with me about being afraid to go to school because of the fear of encountering gangs on the way and having to pay daily to enter and leave their neighborhood.

If TPS for El Salvador is not extended, this is what many U.S. children with TPS-recipient parents likely will face….

Is this what we are prepared to allow 192,000 U.S.-citizen children to face? The possibility of being hunted by gangs and identified for extortion, gang recruitment and worse in a country that they don’t call home?