NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio: Do Not Tear Salvadoran Families Apart

UPDATED| This week, the federal Department of Homeland Security announced it was ending a humanitarian program called Temporary Protected Status for people from El Salvador. TPS has provided these men, women and children the ability to live and work legally in the United States since 2001, when a series of earthquakes destabilized their homeland.

This is not American. This is not what conforms to our longstanding values and our beliefs. We should not accept it, and I doubt most Americans will, once the consequences of this devastating policy are made clear. We are not a hateful people. We do not want to see families and businesses and communities torn apart.

Our task now is to make this case in every corner of this country. Speak out. Call Congress. Salvadoran TPS recipients deserve a pathway to citizenship, instead of threatened deportation.

New York City is more prosperous than ever and safer than ever because of immigrants, not in spite of them. Our city is home to over 30,000 Salvadorans overall, among them 4,000 with TPS status, and 3,500 children born in this country and living with someone who has TPS status. Like Salvadoran TPS holders nationwide, our fellow New Yorkers have been here on average for two decades. They work hard. They own homes. They pay taxes. They also contribute more than $240 million annually to New York City’s gross domestic product.

01_11_18_DeBlasio New York Mayor Bill de Blasio speaking in front of Trump Tower on November 21, 2017. Spencer Platt/Getty

In New York City, we are in pain, but I can’t say we’re in shock. The Trump administration has made numerous efforts to target and demonize all immigrants, especially Latino immigrants. The list includes: terminating TPS for Haitians, Sudanese and Nicaraguans; rescinding DACA; and arresting immigrants who follow laws, pay taxes and support their families.

The White House is giving Salvadorans in the program until September 2019 to leave, or risk deportation. Yet, according to many news sources and the Salvadoran government itself, conditions in El Salvador are not safe. There is violence, drought and terrible poverty. That’s why President George W. Bush—a Republican—granted TPS to Salvadorans in 2001, and why it’s been extended ever since. That is, until now.

There’s a lot of fear out there. There are a lot of people who are desperately worried about what this moment will mean for them and their families. They’ve heard a very clear articulation of things that could happen that would fundamentally alter their lives, and for the worse.

We don’t know what is going to happen to them, but nothing that happens in Washington can change New York City. Our policies are clear. We will not work with federal authorities to deport law-abiding New Yorkers. We will not tear families apart. We will not leave children without their parents. We will not take breadwinners away from families who have no one else.

New York City became great because this was a place for everyone. We need to remind our fellow New Yorker in the White House of the very things that allowed him and countless others an opportunity—this place that is open to all, that believes in opportunity for all.

Bill de Blasio is the mayor of New York City.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that New York City is home to 15,000 Salvadorans. It is home to over 30,000.