1. Statement
  2. Immigrants & Refugees

Congress Must Weigh in to Protect Vulnerable Immigrants from Deportation Threat

By Hannah Graf Evans, November 15, 2017

FCNL opposes the administration’s decision to cancel Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Nicaraguans and non-decision resulting in an inadequate automatic 6-month extension for Hondurans. We urge Congress to ensure that the administration is upholding the integrity of the TPS program so that individuals are not returned to harm and to pursue long overdue stability for our immigrant neighbors.

Established by Congress in 1990, the TPS program gives the administration the authority to ensure certain populations are not returned to dangerous or unstable situations that arise in their home countries, such as an earthquake, violent outbreak, or other temporary extraordinary circumstances. Currently, there are TPS holders from ten different countries residing legally in the United States. Over the past few months however, the administration has ended TPS for Nicaragua and Sudan, granted an arbitrarily short 6-month extension for Haiti, and failed to issue a decision for Honduras triggering an insufficient automatic 6-month extension. Administration officials have indicated that Haitian, Honduran, and Salvadoran TPS recipients may have their protections cancelled in the coming weeks and months, even while experts have asserted that conditions in-country warrant 18-month extensions.1

Hannah Graf Evans, FCNL Legislative Representative for Immigration and Domestic Policy, stated,

“These policy decisions set millions of people up for impossible choices between family unity, legality, or security. This is a pattern. In addition to TPS recipients, this administration is systematically targeting individuals who have gone through or are attempting to go through the proper channels to maintain legal status in the United States and stay safe from harm, such as DACA recipients, asylum seekers, and refugees. We are concerned that the administration is using individuals who are easiest to round up and deport – but also extremely vulnerable – to demonstrate the administration’s 'tough on immigration' stance to its base.

“Targeting the most vulnerable among us and longtime contributors to our communities will not make us safer, and it will not restore integrity to our immigration system. TPS and DACA recipients are often from mixed immigration status families;a majority have U.S. citizen children, spouses, or siblings. Some TPS recipients have been in the country for decades--they have started businesses, are enrolled in school, or are caretakers for family members. It simply will not make sense for them to leave their whole lives behind to return to unstable conditions, so some will choose to stay. These decisions will result in waves of dangerous deportations, more family separation, increasing numbers of people in detention, destabilized workplaces and communities, and a growing undocumented population.”

We cannot continue down this path. FCNL calls on members of Congress to publicly denounce prematurely ending TPS for populations still in need. Congress should urge the administration to be more transparent in their decision making and issue 18-month extensions for countries where TPS is still warranted. Furthermore, Congress must pursue lasting legislative solutions that would offer stability through legal status to recipients who have lived here for many years, would face undue hardship if deported, or are otherwise eligible for permanent residence. Our immigrant community members deserve permanent congressional action. We urge members of Congress to take up this call.

1: The Global Justice Clinic at NYU School of Law, Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on conditions in Haiti and a joint Catholic statement on conditions in Central America.

The Friends Committee on National Legislation, the oldest registered religious lobby in Washington, is a nonpartisan Quaker lobby in the public interest. FCNL works with a nationwide network of tens of thousands of people of many different faiths from every state in the U.S. to advocate for social and economic justice, peace, and good government.

Hannah Graf Evans

  • Former Legislative Representative, Immigration and Refugee Policy

Hannah Graf Evans led FCNL's lobbying for compassionate immigration and refugee policies, with a particular focus on detention practices, the rights of border communities, and protection of vulnerable communities. Hannah served as co-chair of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition steering committee for three years.