By Joe Guzzardi
May 6, 2016
Here we go again. Ecuadorean immigrants are imploring the Obama administration to allow their fellow countrymen living unlawfully in the United States to remain under a program known as Temporary Protected Status. TPS grants a temporary deportation reprieve, includes work authorization, and can only be authorized by the U.S. president.
Ecuador suffered a 7.8-maginitude earthquake on April 18, and advocates’ claim that those illegally present cannot return home under existing conditions. But the rub is that few had actually planned to return, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement has had no intention to deport them. Ergo, the national disaster back home turns out to offer the very desirable benefit of being officially reprieved from even the remotest possibility of deportation, and gives work permits to the former illegal and supposedly unemployable aliens.
“Again” because on the grounds of civil strife or natural disaster, the U.S. previously granted TPS to Haitians (1999), Nicaraguans (1999), Salvadorans (2001), Sudanese, (2010), Somalians (2010), and Liberians (2014). Temporary status provisions to those countries have been renewed multiple times which means that Haitian and Nicaraguan foreign nationals have been permanently present for 17 years, more than a decade and a half after the earthquake ended and the hurricane passed.
As it’s currently implemented, TPS raises serious questions about its effectiveness. Although U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services defines TPS as providing temporary shelter within the U.S. until the nationals can safely return home, every year thousands of tourists fearlessly visit at least two of those supposedly unsafe countries. In Nicaragua, for example, tourism has increased 70 percent during the last seven years—seven years since it was allegedly unsafe for nationals to go back. The Los Angeles Times wrote a glowing travel review of Nicaragua and described it as a “tropical paradise.” The same descriptor could apply to El Salvador whose 1.27 million annual visitors make it a favored getaway. The take away: Nicaragua and El Salvador cannot be too dangerous for its nationals living in the U.S. under TPS and, at the same time, preferred tourist destinations.
Another important consideration USCIS ignores is that extended TPS increases the already unsustainable U.S. population. Somalians and Liberians have birthrates above 40 children per 1,000 persons, among the world’s highest. By comparison, the U.S. birthrate is 14 per 1,000. Since most refugees maintain their high birthrates for at least one generation, schools, hospitals and social service centers will soon see significant increases in the demand for their services.
The open borders lobby is out in full force on behalf of Ecuadorian TPS. A group of 32 congressional Democrats sent Obama a letter requesting TPS for the estimated 130,000 Ecuadorians live in the U.S. illegally, mostly in New York and New Jersey.
TPS is intended to respond to acute, massive, and often unanticipated disasters to allow the home country recovery time, but not to protect illegal foreign nationals from their home country's poverty, hardship, inconvenience or crumbling infrastructure. At least five billion people worldwide live in those circumstances daily.
When TPS is automatically rolled over, as Presidents Bush and Obama did, it loses integrity, and leads to the undeniable conclusion that there’s nothing as permanent as a temporary resident.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]