Following last month’s earthquake in Ecuador, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) is again calling on the Obama administration to shield potentially hundreds of thousands of Ecuadorians from deportation.
“It has already taken longer than it should have to grant [Temporary Protected Status] – more than a month since the terrible earthquakes rocked Ecuador,” Gutiérrez said Monday. “I am asking [Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson] to take action as quickly as possible to lift the uncertainty facing Ecuadorians in the U.S. who might be deported.”
Temporary Protected Status is an immigration benefit granted to nationals of foreign countries that have experienced a disaster or conflict that makes it too dangerous for a safe return home. According to Gutierrez, the earthquake that took place in Ecuador on April 16 meets the level of disaster worthy of applying TPS to Ecuadorians currently in the U.S. illegally or on soon-to-expire visas.
“The situation in Ecuador is very serious and TPS allows Ecuadorians to help support the recovery effort through their remittances and TPS delays deportations until after the country is stable enough to accept returning nationals,” he added.
Last week, the government of Ecuador formally requested that the U.S. grant TPS to Ecuadorians in the U.S., according to TeleSur. It reports there are currently some 200,000 Ecuadorians living in the U.S. illegally — out of an estimated one million total Ecuadorians in the U.S.
Immigration hawks have criticized TPS as a de facto amnesty that rarely expires, even after the conflict or disaster has been resolved.
“TPS is what you might call green card-lite – it provides the illegal immigrants (and legal tourists, students, et al. whose visas are expiring) a work permit, Social Security number, driver’s license, and access to certain welfare benefits, but not an immediate path to citizenship. Obama’s lawless DACA and DAPA amnesties were modeled on TPS,” Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, commented at National Review last month.
Gutiérrez formally requested the extension of TPS to citizens of Ecuador in a letter to President Obama on April 25.