Las Vegas Sun

January 16, 2019

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We stand with our neighbors against unfair deportation

Imagine there was a catastrophe or a conflict in your home country that crippled the economy and resulted in widescale unemployment and homelessness.

Now, imagine that another country allowed you to live there. It let you stay for years, which turned into decades, during which you managed to build a good life. You worked hard, paid taxes, raised children and put them on a path to greater opportunities than you ever had.

But there was a catch. Your new country never fully welcomed you by giving you a pathway to citizenship. You knew your legal status was technically only temporary, but the longer you stayed, the more you became part of the fabric of your city, state and nation.

But then came a day when, despite all you had contributed, you were told you had to leave.

Would you find that fair? Compassionate? Or commonsensical?

The answer for many Americans is a loud no, which is why the Trump administration’s order to discontinue Temporary Protected Status for roughly 200,000 El Salvadorans living here is drawing intense backlash, as it should.

Those immigrants, including some 5,700 Nevadans, should be given an opportunity to stay here permanently. The reasons start with the fact that many of them have been living in the United States peacefully and productively for a lengthy period of time — an average of 24 years for the TPS recipients in Nevada.

Let’s repeat that: an average of 24 years. And during that time, they’ve been living under a requirement to check in with immigration officials on a regular basis and stay out of trouble with the law, with the penalty being loss of their TPS.

In short, they’re law-abiding, contributing members of our society. They’re exactly the kind of people we want coming to our nation and helping us keep the American dream alive.

Sure, they’ve stayed here knowing that their status was temporary, but that status was extended 10 times. Meanwhile, their home country has continued to suffer economic and political strife. So excuse them for putting down roots here.

But thank goodness they did, because the nation is a better place for it.

In Nevada, the El Salvadorans covered by TPS include 4,800 who are employed, a little more than 30 percent of whom work in the hotel and food services industries. Losing them would hurt the local economy — an estimated $255.3 million hit to the state GDP, according to the Center for American Progress. They’ve also strengthened our region by adding to our diversity, which is one of the pillars of our vitality and a key factor in our growth.

Kicking them out, or forcing them to remain here illegally, is not only counterproductive but heartless. It will split families apart, as many of the immigrants on TPS have children who were born and raised in the U.S. and will stay here.

The good news is that there’s an opportunity to fight the Trump administration’s cruel decision, and to push back on orders ending TPS status for Hondurans and Haitians.

President Donald Trump’s stance on the issue simply cannot be tolerated. That became even more clear Thursday, when The Washington Post reported that he referred to Haiti and some African nations whose citizens have received TPS as “shitholes.” Trump made the comment during a meeting with congressional lawmakers to discuss immigration, the Post said.

El Salvadorans have until September 2019 to leave the country, so there’s time to demand that Republican congressional leaders create a solution that would allow them to stay. With midterm elections coming up in November, it’s also a chance to elect leaders who commit to allowing the immigrants to stay.

Be heard

Here’s how to contact Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., the lone Republican congressional delegate representing Southern Nevada, and express support for our neighbors who have Temporary Protected Status:

• By phone: 702-388-6605

• Online email form: Click here