September 19, 2020
By Ariela Moel

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States, immigrants that find themselves in the state of Texas are frightened as they must face an impossible crossroads- to find another program to care for their safety and security in the United States or be forced to leave the country. Since an appellate court judge determined that President Donald Trump could cancel the Temporary Protective Status program, tens of thousands of people who remain in Texas lawfully under refugee security could be required to leave or face deportation.

While an appeal is inevitable, it’d take months, forcing over 300,000 immigrants around the country to narrowly avoid deportations until the program is restored. In an interview with Spectrum News' Capital Tonight, the overseeing counsel for American Gateways, which offers legal help to immigrants in 23 Central Texas counties, Bobby Painter, said: “I don’t think anyone would argue that many of the countries designated under the program are now safe places to return to.”

The decision (2-1) by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California means that refugees from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan who have been given a TPS will be required to leave behind children who are U.S. residents if the decision is upheld. By Nov. 5, 2021, the decision may force Salvadorans to leave the country.

According to the Texas Tribune, Paul Andre Mondesir, the State TPS Alliance's main organizer, mentioned “This is a difficult decision for our struggle but it is far from finished. We will exhaust every legal recourse at our disposal to protect our community and our loved ones. We will take this fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary and continue to demand that Congress act now to pass a permanent residency.”

The founders of the National TPS Coalition said they would seek a hearing of the case before the entire 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which may have an effect on whether TPS members would then have to flee the country if the entire court upheld the ruling on Monday. The complainants in the case said they were going to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court if needed.

The TPS policy has been praised by many, as it is seen as an economic driver that contributes billions to the GDP of the county. TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti per year contribute around $2.2 billion to the Texas GDP, as referenced by the Center for American Progress.

Gloria Soto, 33, endured abuse in Honduras and moved to Texas at the age of eight. She has since lived and worked under the TPS scheme in the Dallas area. Soto is a single parent to two girls, a 14-year-old and 11-year-old, who'd been born and raised in the USA. When talking to Spectrum Local News, she mentioned “My oldest daughter, she has special needs. Right? She needs to be checked up here. She needs to be going through appointments. In my country, that couldn't happen because of the situation there.”

The unsafe conditions for the immigrants in Texas inflict worry upon both the protection and security of immigrants nationwide.

Edited by Bella Perreira