NEW YORK – Bishops from El Salvador are joining bishops from the United States in the nation’s capital this week, in an effort to remind government officials of what will happen if over 200,000 Salvadorans lose their protected status under U.S. immigration law and are deported to their home country.
In January of this year, the Trump administration announced that it would revoke the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for El Salvador, a program that allows for individuals to reside and work in the U.S. if their home country is under threat from natural disaster, violence, or other extraordinary circumstances.
The U.S. bishops have previously condemned the decision as “heartbreaking.” This week’s delegation of Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez, president of Caritas El Salvador; Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas, archbishop of San Salvador; Bishop William Irahera, bishop of Santiago de Maria; and Bishop Elías Samuel Bolaños Avelar, vice-president of Caritas El Salvador; accompanied by Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami and Auxiliary Bishop Mario Eduardo Dorsonville-Rodríguez of Washington; in some respects fulfills a pledge to stand in solidarity with TPS beneficiaries as they navigate uncertain legal futures.
The visit is being organized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB/MRS) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The bishops will spend four days in the Washington, D.C. area speaking to congressional representatives, State Department officials, and other political leaders, encouraging a long-term solution for TPS beneficiaries, as well as spending time participating in community dialogues, and providing spiritual care for the nation’s largest TPS beneficiary population.
Ashley Feasley, director of policy for MRS, told Crux that there is a three-fold purpose for the delegation’s visit.
“First, to stand in solidarity with Salvadorans who are hurting and anxious about the TPS decision- to provide them accompaniment and pastoral support. Secondly, to advocate with Congress to remind them about what Temporary Protected Status is- why it’s needed and why TPS holders, especially those who have lived here for a long time and integrated into our communities and have U.S. Citizen children, need protection.”
Finally, she said, another aim is “to engage the State Department about the need for development, reintegration services for El Salvador and for the region. To ensure that we are looking at the U.S. government Central American strategy through protection, development and a human lens – not just an enforcement lens.”
By Christopher White for CRUX
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