Salvadoran Immigrants and allies rally to fight TPS decision
Legislators, city officials and advocates stand behind TPS holders and their families
In response to President Trump’s decision to repeal Temporary Protected Status for 200,000 Salvadorans in the U.S. Immigrant advocacy group Centro Presente organized a rally last Wednesday at Boston City Hall with city and state officials in attendance.
“Centro Presente strongly denounces Trump’s cruel decision to take away TPS from 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants who have been contributing to the economy across the U.S. since 2001,” said the organization’s executive director, Patricia Montes.
Over a period of several months, the Trump administration has terminated TPS for four countries: El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan.
“This is one of the most hypocritical and most un-American policies,” said Mayor Martin Walsh at the rally.
Trump’s immigration policies are especially difficult for Boston to accept, he said, where 20 percent of residents are foreign born and 40 percent are first-generation Americans who come from immigrant families.
“Kids in our schools should not be worrying about whether their mother and father are going to be sent back to their country,” said Walsh.
He added, “We’re going to push Congress, I am going to push them every single day. because families can’t live with this uncertainty.”
“I’m very proud to be a first generation American. My father came here for a better life and in one short generation, I was able to become a state representative,” said Massachusetts Rep. Adrian Madaro.
“I invite anyone to come to East Boston and see my neighbors, my friends, and my allies in my community who are TPS holders. They are Bostonians just like any of us,” he said.
At-large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley expressed her support for comprehensive immigration reform and the right for TPS holders to stay.
“Ultimately, our leadership and our being here today…this is not some charitable benevolence. This is what you’ve earned, you are worth this fight,” she said. “These policies and their devastating impact on families, our economy and the stabilization of our workforce is cruel, cold and shortsighted.”
District 1 City Councilor Lydia Edwards took a moment to talk about concrete action steps that public officials and allies can take now. “We need to make sure we are educating fellow Americans about what TPS is …and [for those] who are wondering why this is a big deal,” she said. “All the ignorant comments we hear is because of lack of education. Lack of historical education about why many people from other countries have to come here to begin with.”
Secondly, Edwards said that people should be aware of and cautious of fraud. “At this particular moment, when a lot of communities are in panic, there are certain industries who are waiting to make a lot of money on a lot of misery,” she said, referring to immigration scam tactics that target vulnerable individuals who are looking for pathways to citizenship.
And lastly, the city councilor said we have to have “tough conversations in making sure we are prepared for our futures. For those who are homeowners, for those who have children here…making sure all your legal affairs are in order and you have planned out what’s going to happen, whether or how they happen in 20 months,” she said.
In reference to Edwards’ call for more education about U.S. immigration, Montes said,
“Your government has a lot to do with the extreme level of poverty, violence, like in Honduras. Please take a minute to learn your own history and see why we come here.”
The current president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez, manipulated his country’s laws to run for re-election and is suspected of electoral fraud. The Trump administration allowed the State Department to send millions of dollars in U.S. aid, citing the country’s progress in human rights and corruption.
TPS holder Yesy Patricia Carbajal, shared her experience living and working in the U.S. as a single mother and construction worker. “I provide for my daughter. I don’t receive any government help. I pay taxes and my record is clean. I’m asking for my residency because I have earned it,” she said.
“Like many of us, we work hard at jobs that many people don’t want to do and it’s okay, because we have a life here,” said Carbajal.
She attested to the violence in her native country, Honduras. “It is real life, when the military kills people in daylight…we cannot take our kids over there.”
As for her U.S. citizen daughter, “I’m not going to leave this country because it is her right to have her mother next to her to accomplish her dreams,” she said.
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data, there are 4,200 children in Massachusetts whose parents have TPS.
Elmer Vivas Portillo, a sophomore and sociology major at Harvard University, shared his story, having two Salvadoran parents — his father a recent U.S. resident and his mother, a TPS holder.
“They have had to fight for a job, to clean other people’s offices, hotel rooms and pick up other people’s trash. But they’ve done it with pride,” he said. “Like millions of other immigrants, they sought out the U.S. to be a safe haven.”