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Maryland AG Urges Congress to Keep Temporary Protected Status


Wednesday, March 14, 2018   

BALTIMORE – Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh announced on Tuesday that he has signed on to a coalition of 19 states and the District of Columbia in a letter urging Congress to protect longtime residents from Haiti and El Salvador by giving them permanent resident status in the United States.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is typically reserved for people fleeing countries because of such concerns as disease, natural disasters and armed conflict.

Recently, the Trump administration announced it will terminate TPS designations for people staying in the U.S. from Haiti and El Salvador, because it believes conditions in their countries have improved. However, according to a coalition of attorneys general, the living conditions in those countries are still too dangerous.

In the meantime, said Raquel Coombs, communications director for Frosh's office, most of the thousands of people who would be expected to vacate the U.S. have become model citizens.

"These are families, these are residents who contribute billions of dollars to our economy," said Coombs. "They've been living here for years, growing families, growing businesses, paying taxes."

The Trump administration has argued that the TPS program was never designed to provide permanent status, but the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the American children of immigrants with TPS status. It claims children shouldn't have to choose between their families and a country.

Maryland is home to the fourth-largest community of Salvadorans with TPS status in the nation - some 20,000 people, according to the Center for Migration Studies of New York. Most arrived after a series of earthquakes in 2001 disrupted living conditions. Haiti was hit with a massive quake in 2010 that affected those fleeing the island country.

Since that time, Coombs pointed out, many people have started over.

"We would just urge Congress to act quickly to protect these families and pass legislation providing them permanent resident status," she said.

Determining whether a particular nation receives TPS designation is the responsibility of the Secretary of Homeland Security. The designation is granted for six to 18 months, and can then be extended if the adverse conditions that prompted the designation do not improve.

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