“It doesn’t affect just one person. It affects the whole family,” Helen said.
“We’ve been here, my brother and I, since we were little...This is our home,” Karla said.
“We’ll lose our jobs. We’ll lose it all,” Oscar said.
Helen, Karla, and Oscar are just three of the nearly 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants whose lives were put in jeopardy this week by the Trump administration.
Ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) will have a devastating impact for these folks — the overwhelming majority of whom have lived in the U.S. for more than a decade. They’ve built careers, started families, and created communities here.
But Trump’s cruel decision forces immigrants from El Salvador to leave the place they call home. It will tear roughly 193,000 U.S. citizen children away from their TPS-recipient parents. For immigrants, this can create a culture of fear around getting health care and sharing personal information. People feel like they’re being forced into the shadows.
TL;DR: immigrant rights and health care go hand in hand.
What is TPS?
TPS is a status granted to citizens from countries affected by war or health and humanitarian crises. Salvadorans have been protected by TPS since 2001, after devastating earthquakes hit the country. Additionally, El Salvador has dealt with conflict, violence, and other instabilities for decades.
TPS is similar to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Both are under attack from the Trump administration and are important programs that protect immigrants and allow them to safely stay in the U.S. However, while there is immense pressure on Congress to pass a clean Dream Act, protections for TPS recipients is not guaranteed to be included in that legislation.
At a DACA rally last year, protestors crowded legislative office buildings.
Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda
This decision is part of a a systematic attack against immigrants and their families. Since September, the Trump administration has ended TPS protections for immigrants from a different country nearly every month. To date, the administration has pulled the rug out from under the feet of immigrants from the following countries, totaling about 250,000 immigrants:
- El Salvador
TPS and health care
TPS helps safeguard Salvadoran immigrants from their country of origin, which is often described as “the most violent region of the world outside of conventional war zones.” Ending this program forces immigrants to return to their countries of origin, many of which are still recovering from catastrophic events such as natural disasters, war, and famine, and plagued by government instability and poor infrastructure.
This shot from the Associated Press provides a glimpse at some of the damage from the 2001 earthquakes.
But with the program ending, TPS recipients may be reluctant to get the care they need here in the U.S. out of fear of deportation, discrimination, harassment, and scrutiny. In a recent national poll surveying health care providers that serve immigrant communities, two-thirds of respondents said they’d seen a hesitance among patients to get health care since Trump took office.
Imagine being too afraid to go to the doctor’s office when you’re sick or need a cancer screening. Imagine being too afraid to sign up for health insurance, or to even pick up a prescription from the pharmacy.
The stakes are even higher for LGBTQ TPS recipients. In addition to the stigma of being undocumented, people who identify as LGBTQ also face the possibility of being forced to return to a country that’s intolerant of who they are.
How you can be an ally
Change starts with YOU. Tell your lawmakers to stand with TPS recipients and their families. Demand that they #SaveTPS.
Plus, here’s here’s a roundup of organizations you can support and follow to stand with immigrants.