Temporary Protective Status (TPS) is a conditional status granted to undocumented people in the United States who cannot return to their home country because of civil strife or natural disaster. It is granted by the Secretary of Homeland Security on a case-by-case basis and allows the recipient protection from deportation and a work permit.

For CARECEN, obtaining TPS for Central Americans without status has been a landmark achievement, as it was the result of many years of advocacy in the courts and in government on behalf of people who had fled Central America because of civil war during the 1980s and 1990s but then were denied political asylum. People from El Salvador were the first designated to receive TPS from 1991 to 1992. They received TPS designation again after f devastating earthquakes struck El Salvador in January and February 2001. People from Nicaragua and Honduras were granted TPS in 1999 in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch.

But winning TPS was only half the struggle. More than a decade and a half since the last TPS program was granted to Central Americans, CARECEN and other organizations across the country are pursuing a national campaign to win Legal Permanent Residency for those who have been living with only TPS designation.

To maintain their status, these recipients have had to register with the government, keep up with their taxes, undergo a background check, show good moral character and pay a fee of almost $500 every eighteen months.

On January 30, 2012, more than 20 organizations in 10 states launched a national campaign to gain permanent residence for Central Americans who have been legally living and working in the United States for more than a decade but continue to have access only to TPS.

We believe TPS recipients have earned the right to become lawful permanent residents.

We came together to support vibrant futures for families that not only contribute to our national economy, but also strengthen our local communities. . Permanent residency will end the uncertainty and legal limbo that these thousands of families are living in every day. Every eighteen months families live in fear that the Secretary of Homeland Security will end their TPS.  Permanent residency is the only viable way to help them reunite, to ensure their economic and social stability, and to safeguard the progress of our communities and nation.

We are calling on all members of the community, legislators, community organizations and activists, congregations and faith leaders, unions, and all those who support a fair and viable solution for immigrant families in the U.S., to come together and support this campaign.

We, Central American TPS community, have:

  • We are people with a 15-year+ proven record of complying with all U.S. government requirements.
  • We have government-issued work permits and are authorized to live and work in the United States.
  • We have come forward and registered with the government in a temporary, conditional program when we were given the opportunity to do so. 
  • We are hard workers, we pay our taxes and we make important contributions to this country.
  • We have paid over ONE BILLION DOLLARS in registration fees in the last 15 years to maintain our status.
  • Our youth are committed to get an education and become professionals to contribute at a higher level. It would be a waste to not incorporate us into U.S. society and exclude all that potential from this country’s economy.
  • We have invested in our neighborhoods by purchasing homes and starting businesses.
  • We have started families in this country and have U.S.-born children whom we raise with integrity and hope for a bright future.
  • We are an organized community; our Central American parents and relatives that are U.S. citizens are examples in their communities. There are more than one million Central American voters who are very active and work to ensure the fair treatment of all people.

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