Edwin Murillo, and his wife, Mily, originally from El Salvador, are traveling to protest the phase-out of temporary protections for immigrants.
Daniel González, The Republic | azcentral.com
A caravan is traveling across the country to drum up support for several hundred thousand immigrants who will soon have to leave the country after the Trump administration ended temporary protections that allowed them to remain in the United States.
The caravan stopped in Phoenix over the weekend, after launching in Los Angeles on Friday. The group will make a 12-week cross-country trip through 30 states that is set to culminate in Washington, D.C.
The caravan, organized by the National TPS Alliance, a group of immigrant advocacy organizations and labor unions, arrived in Phoenix on Sunday in several vans and cars after the bus they were supposed to take broke down in Los Angeles and needed repair, organizers said.
At a rally Monday at the State Capitol, about 50 members of the caravan and their supporters protested the Trump administration’s decision to phase out Temporary Protected Status for more than 300,000 immigrants, most of them from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti.
The protections had let the immigrants stay in the United States for decades because of wars and natural disasters in their home countries.
The Trump administration has also ended Temporary Protected Status for immigrants from Nicaragua, Nepal, and Sudan.
Congress created the Temporary Protected Status program in 1990 to allow people from countries ravaged by war, famine and natural disasters to remain in the United States as their countries recover.
In phasing out the program, the Trump administration argued the conditions that warranted Temporary Protected Status no longer exist. The administration has therefore given immigrants with Temporary Protected Status an 18-month grace period before they will be required to leave or face deportation.
Caravan members are calling on Congress to pass legislation that would allow immigrants with Temporary Protected Status to apply for legal status to remain permanently in the United States.
“Residencia ahora. Residency now,” the caravan of immigrants and their supporters chanted on the lawn outside the Capitol building in the sweltering heat.
Some supporters of President Donald Trump’s decision to phase out the program believe it’s time for immigrants with Temporary Protected Status to return to their home countries, unless they already qualify for a green card through a relative or employer.
They should not be given “amnesty,” said Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports restricted immigration.
“They have had the chance to work, receive education, save money, and educate their children here,” she said. “Those who don’t now qualify for a green card should use those skills and assets to get re-established in their home countries, and work and pay taxes to contribute there.”
Caravan members said immigrants with Temporary Protected Status have been unable to apply for legal status on their own and now face being deported to countries racked by violence and endemic poverty.
An argument for staying
They say they deserve a chance to remain permanently in the United States because they have lived and worked legally here for decades, have children who were born here, and have contributed to the economy by working and paying taxes.
“We need some solutions for us,” said Edwin Murillo, a 42-year-old immigrant from El Salvador, who is traveling with the caravan with his wife, Mily, 40, and their two children, Suri, 11, and Arielle, 5.
The family has been living in Dallas, where Murillo said he the couple worked at the same hotel, he as a banquet supervisor, his wife in room service.
Murillo said he quit his job to travel with the caravan; his wife received a leave of absence.
“It’s been already like 20 years we have been here with work permits so I think it’s time now for a permanent solution,” Mily said. “We have families. We have kids. We pay taxes. I think it’s time.”
Gilma Burgos, a 62-year-old immigrant from El Salvador, who lives in Scottsdale, came to the Capitol to support the caravan.
She said she has had Temporary Protected Status for 17 of the 20 years she has lived in the United States and has two children born in this country. The Temporary Protected Status program is set to end for immigrants from El Salvador on Sept. 9, 2019.
She said she doesn’t want to return to El Salvador because of the violence and because she would not be able to work.
“If TPS ends, I don’t know what I am going to do,” she said. “But I don’t want to go back to my country. There is a lot of insecurity and for people of my age. There are no jobs there.”
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