Economy Will Suffer if Trump Administration Deports Immigrants Fleeing Crises, Advocates Say

The U.S. economy would take a huge hit if the Trump administration decides to stop offering Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to thousands of immigrants who have fled natural disasters, political persecution and pandemics, immigration advocacy groups and lawmakers said.

More than 300,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti have been granted TPS, and its elimination would result in the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) taking a $164 billion hit over the next decade, according to the Center for American Progress. It would also result in a $6.9 billion reduction to Social Security and Medicare contributions over a decade, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center said.

More than 80 percent of TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti are believed to be employed, and if they could no longer perform their jobs, American employers would have to spend $967 million in hiring and training new employees, ILRC estimated.

“TPS holders are essential contributors to the U.S. economy and society, and provide critical financial support to assist recovery and stability in their home countries—both things the Trump administration should consider as it decides the future of TPS,” the Center for American Progress said.

RTX1ED9L A Haitian immigrant prays during a mass in an evangelical church, at the Glicerio neighborhood of Sao Paulo May 24, 2015. Three years ago, the Brazil government announced the creation of a humanitarian visa that would be exclusively issued to Haitian refugees after the devastating 2010 earthquake on the island. NACHO DOCE/REUTERS

Deadlines to renew TPS for immigrants from El Salvador and Haiti are looming. At least 60 days before TPS is set to expire, the Homeland Security secretary must review the conditions for the TPS designation and decide if protection is still warranted.

Acting Secretary Elaine Duke this month ended TPS for 2,500 recipients displaced from Nicaragua after Hurricane Mitch in 1999. The formerly protected immigrants have about a year to leave the U.S.

Duke is weighing the status for 57,000 Hondurans, having extended the expiration date by six months (it had been January 5). According to The Washington Post, White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly pressured Duke to expel the Hondurans, but she refused.

RTS1E37M Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke testifies during a Senate hearing on "threats to the homeland," on Capitol Hill in Washington, September 27. KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS

A decision for 50,000 Haitians, whose TPS is set to expire January 22, is expected around Thanksgiving. TPS for 195,000 recipients from El Salvador expires March 9.

Haitians received TPS in 2010 after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake shook the island, killing 220,000 people. Salvadorans received TPS in 2001 after a series of earthquakes left tens of thousands homeless.

The Homeland Security secretary can designate countries for temporary TPS in cases of war, famine, epidemics or natural disasters. TPS currently is granted to recipients from 13 foreign countries.

The majority of both Salvadoran and Honduran TPS holders have lived in the United States for at least 20 years, and at least 16 percent of Haitian TPS holders have lived in the U.S. for at least two decades. TPS holders from the three countries have 273,000 American-born children, according to the American Immigration Council.

Losing TPS would be devastating to those children, immigrant advocacy groups say.

“They would either face separation from their parents or be forced to relocate to a country foreign to them,” the Center for American Progress said. “Even the fear of family separation or deportation of parents has been found to have detrimental effects on children’s cognitive and psychological well-being.”

Job sectors anticipated to suffer the most from elimination of TPS are the construction, restaurant and food services, landscaping, child care, hospitality and grocery industries—all of which employ high rates of TPS holders.

RTXOXIG A Honduran woman collects belongings outside her damaged house in the El Peru neighborhood in Puerto Cortes, May 29, 2009. EDGARD GARRIDO/REUTERS

Florida lawmakers have been particularly vocal in demanding Congress grant permanent residency to TPS holders from the three countries. The state stands to lose an estimated 72,000 TPS holders if protection is revoked.

Four Florida lawmakers late last month introduced bipartisan legislation to grant legal permanent resident status to more than 300,000 qualified Nicaraguan, Honduran, Salvadoran and Haitian migrants.

“The continued short-term extensions of TPS have created anxiety and uncertainty not only for these migrants and their families, but also for their employers and neighbors whose prosperity also depends on them,” Republican U.S. Representative Carlos Curbelo said in an October 31 statement. “While I will continue to support extensions for Temporary Protected Status, this bipartisan legislation would give these migrants the peace of mind to continue giving back to their communities, contributing to our economy and supporting their families.”

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