Ending Protections for Honduran and Salvadoran Immigrants Would be a Blow to Maryland Communities

December 21, 2017 by Ellen Hutton in Blog, Economic Opportunity

Thousands of immigrants from El Salvador and Honduras have made their homes in Maryland communities over the last two decades. Many of them are now able to work, go to school, and pay taxes because of a type of legal status called Temporary Protected Status (TPS) – but they face uncertain futures as the Trump administration weighs changes to the nation’s immigration programs.

Since its creation in 1990, TPS has served as a form of humanitarian relief, granting work authorization and deferred deportation to immigrants from certain countries experiencing conflict or natural disasters. President Trump recently ended TPS for Haitian and Nicaraguan immigrants and will need to make decisions on whether to extend the program for Honduran and Salvadoran immigrants within the next few months.

Many of the immigrants currently living in the U.S. with TPS have been here for more than two decades. They have established lives here, own homes and businesses, and are raising children who have U.S. citizenship. They pay taxes and contribute to Social Security and Medicare, despite being ineligible to receive benefits from those programs. Like the young adult “Dreamers,” who are also under threat of losing their protected status, many have spent most of their lives here.

There are more than 18,000 U.S.-born children living in Maryland who have at least one parent with TPS. Ending TPS would rip those families apart, forcing parents to make the difficult decision to return to their country of citizenship without their children or remain in the U.S., no longer able to legally work and facing the threat of deportation.

Ending TPS would not only uproot families and destabilize communities, it would be a blow to Maryland’s economy. About 18,000 Salvadoran and 1,500 Honduran TPS holders work in Maryland, contributing about $1.2 billion to the state GDP annually. Businesses would lose valued workers, as well as consumers, particularly harming businesses and communities with larger populations of Hondurans and Savadorans.

Maryland Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen have introduced legislation to create a path to citizenship for TPS holders, but it so far appears unlikely to move forward. In order to protect Maryland families and our local economy, our legislators must continue to fight to preserve Temporary Protected Status and create an opportunity for TPS holders who want to stay here to become U.S. citizens.