Las Vegas Sun

November 24, 2017

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Advocates urge GOP to extend immigrants’ temporary protection status

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Yvonne Gonzalez

U.S. Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., joined the Culinary Union and recipients of temporary protected status for a news conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, to urge the GOP to extend the temporary protection program and support Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

There are about 5,700 immigrants in Nevada whose home countries are either unsafe or unable to handle their return, and local advocates want the Trump administration to extend temporary protections for these residents.

The secretary of homeland security has designated 10 countries whose citizens can receive temporary protection status in the U.S., allowing them to pursue work and travel authorizations. These designations are nearing expiration dates, starting with Sudan on Nov. 2 and going through a Sept. 17, 2018, cutoff for Somalia.

It’s unclear whether President Donald Trump’s administration will extend the program. U.S. Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., the Culinary Union and immigrants who have received this temporary protected status (TPS) held a news conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday to urge the administration to support the program, as well as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

“Time is of the essence,” Kihuen said after the news conference. “Now is the time that we have to be speaking up. Realistically, the secretary of homeland security, this administration have the ability at any given moment to be able to renew this and extend it, but … they’re choosing not to at this moment. They’ve been silent on it.”

Kihuen, whose mother has worked at MGM Grand for 24 years and is a Culinary Union member, said Trump has not discussed his plans and no questions about TPS were answered during a recent meeting with then-Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, the current White House chief of staff.

Elaine Duke has stepped up from deputy secretary to acting secretary of homeland security.

“I’m actively working with my colleagues in Congress to educate them so they can too support this and put some pressure on the administration and on the secretary of homeland security to extend the TPS,” Kihuen said.

Geoconda Argüello-Kline of the Culinary Union said Tuesday that thousands of families are living in uncertainty, not knowing if they are going to lose their temporary protected status.

“All over the country it’s about 300,000 people from 10 different countries, countries where they have a lot of struggles,” she said. “We have people coming over here, living here, paying their taxes. They work really hard. They want to be citizens.”

MGM Grand employee Francis Garcia, who spoke to reporters Tuesday about her temporary status and the need to continue the program, has lived in the U.S. for about 21 years.

“We need to support our families; we need to be together,” she said. “If (TPS) is stopped, they’re going to separate a lot of families in this country.”