Colorado News Connection

January 10, 2018Available files: mp3 wav jpg

Colorado Groups Step Up Pressure for Congress to Act on Immigration

Eric Galatas

DENVER - Immigrants' rights supporters say they'll turn to Congress after the Trump administration removed Temporary Protected Status for nearly 200,000 Salvadorans who have lived in the U.S. since 2001.

El Salvador joins a list of 13 countries the administration has targeted for TPS suspensions.

Jennifer Piper, interfaith organizing director with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in Colorado, says more than 190,000 U.S. citizen children are at risk of being separated from their parents.

"Those folks are really entwined in our communities, and not only for families but also for business," she stresses. "Temporary Protected Status gives you a work permit, and many Salvadorans have been working at the same job for more than 10 years."

Piper notes without TPS status for people from El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras, Colorado would lose more than $78 million annually from its GDP.

Trump administration officials have said the situation in El Salvador has changed since the 2001 earthquake, and argue the policy to protect refugees from countries afflicted by natural disasters, war or other dangerous conditions was meant to be temporary.

The move gives Congress 18 months to act on immigration policies.

Piper says she's hopeful Colorado's delegation will support legislation recently introduced in the House and Senate that would create a path to citizenship.

Piper adds AFSC staff have been on the ground in El Salvador since 2014, and she warns people deported back into the country are frequently targeted for criminal recruitment and face death if they refuse.

"The reality is we have made a continuing commitment to people from El Salvador since 2001," she states. "And while the impacts of the earthquake have faded, the murder rate in El Salvador right now is the same death rate you would see in a war zone."

The AFSC's Colorado office will host an open forum on Jan. 27 at Park Hill United Methodist Church in Denver. Piper says the goal is to build support for immigration policies that keep communities together instead of pulling them apart.