Las Vegas Sun

November 19, 2019

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Culinary backs efforts to extend temporary-status immigration program

The Culinary Union on Friday echoed 26 U.S. senators in asking federal government officials to extend temporary protected status, a safeguard program for immigrants from 10 designated countries.

John Kelly, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, may grant designations to countries where conditions can put in danger the return of its nationals.

Earlier this week, 26 senators, including Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., sent a letter to Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, asking them to extend TPS designations to about 320,000 recipients in the U.S. from Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, so they can legally work and reside here.

The designation for Haiti, for example, is set to expire in January, the New York Times reported, noting that before the federal government makes a decision, it is monitoring recovery efforts from the 2010 earthquake, which killed hundreds of thousands and made the country difficult to inhabit.

Kelly in May told Haitians with the status to be ready in case the government decides not to extend it and “to prepare for and arrange their departure,” according to the New York Times.

Also, the federal government is stepping up scrutiny on the “criminal histories and public benefits usage of hundreds” of people with the status living in the U.S., according to NBC News. The feds are also looking into “how that data might be used to inform future decisions.”

“As you know, while TPS holders can obtain employment authorization, the status does not confer the right to permanent residency or citizenship. It is also important to remember that all TPS recipients are fully vetted and are required to undergo a host of biometrics checks to ensure that they are not risks to public safety or national security,” the senators wrote. “Anyone with a serious criminal record or who is found to be a national security threat is ineligible for TPS.”

At least 6,300 immigrants with the designation live in Nevada, according to the union. “They pay taxes, raise their children who are U.S. citizens, and contribute to our economy,” said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, secretary-treasurer for the Culinary Union, in a news release. “If TPS were to expire, it would criminalize thousands of current legal workers in major cities and industries overnight. We call on Republicans to renew TPS and not separate and destroy families who have deep roots in the United States.”

The senators wrote that wrote that TPS holders contribute “hundreds of millions of dollars” in federal tax revenue.

Extending the designation for the 10 countries not only “serves our national security interests” but also “demonstrates to our allies abroad that the United States is a leader in humanitarian efforts,” according to the letter.