Hundreds of advocates from Massachusetts will march to the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Tuesday morning to demand solutions for the uncertain fate of Temporary Protected Status immigrants.
More than 3,000 people from across the country are expected to join the March for TPS Justice, organized by the National TPS Alliance. The march starts at the White House at 9 a.m.
“People have been taking it seriously and showing up in these numbers because the emergency is there. This is urgent,” said Jose Palma, one of the organizers of the event. “For us, it’s a life-changing situation.” Some of the advocates will meet with their respective state representatives to discuss permanent residency. Palma said meetings with representatives of US Senators Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren, in addition to US Representative Ayanna Pressley, are also expected to take place on Tuesday.
Temporary protected status is a legal immigration status granted by the US government to specific countries. The temporary program, which is not a path for citizenship, allows its beneficiaries the opportunity to work legally in the country if recipients re-apply and don’t commit crimes.
The Trump administration started ending the program for several countries in 2017, requiring immigrants who had the status for decades to search for other legal avenues to stay in the US.
Ten buses shuttled more than 500 Massachusetts residents to D.C. on Monday night. Six buses left from Liberty Plaza in East Boston, and others left from Chelsea, Everett, Quincy, and Somerville. Walter Mena, the leadership coordinator for the Massachusetts TPS Committee, observed the wide range of supporters. “There are families that come with kids, Harvard students, workers,” Mena said.
The termination of the program affects approximately 12,000 Massachusetts residents. About 6,000 beneficiaries are from El Salvador, which was granted TPS in 2001. About 4,700 hail from Haiti, which was granted TPS in 2010. Both countries received TPS following earthquakes that ravaged their countries.
Mena said the march received support from members of Boston-based organizations, such as the local union SEIU Local 32BJ and the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. Other supporters from California, Texas and Alabama will march, too.
The march and legislative meetings are just some strategies TPS advocates are trying. In March 2018, a group of TPS beneficiaries filed the federal lawsuit Ramos v. Nielsen asking for permanent residency.
As a result, last October US District Court Judge Edward Chen of San Francisco placed a temporary injunction on terminating TPS. This delayed deportations of TPS recipients from Nicaragua, Haiti, , El Salvador, and Sudan. The injunction came just a month before the Sudanese TPS designation expired.
“As a leader of the movement, I feel proud of the work that many other groups are doing to support this effort,” Palma said.Annika Hom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.