Hundreds of migrants demand help with their immigration situation at White House
Washington, May 16 (EFE).- “I will never leave my children, … they are my life!” was the warcry heard on Tuesday outside the White House, where hundreds of people, many of them migrant mothers, demonstrated to demand temporary immigration relief for Central Americans in the United States.
Lafayette Square, in front of the White House, was the scene of a protest by migrants and their supporters to demand an extension of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program for migrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, and for Guatemalans to be brought under it as well.
The protest featured much shouting and theatrical posturing to provide evidence of the suffering of migrant families, along with music, to defend TPS protection for the countries in question.
The US government program delays the deportation of the three nationalities and extends work permits to people from nations that have suffered natural disasters or are facing serious problems with local violence.
Washington is one of the US cities with a large Salvadoran population, and Gladys – who preferred to keep her real name secret for security reasons – told EFE that she’s been in the US for 29 years after arriving from El Salvador, declaring that she is continuing to fight for the sake of her 13-year-old daughter, who has US citizenship. If Gladys were to be deported, her child would be left alone in this country.
Gladys’s voice broke when she talked about the possibility of being separated from her daughter, to whom six years ago she had explain that there was the chance that some day she might not be there to pick her up from school if US immigration authorities apprehended and deported her.
“It’s like we did in this theater,” said Gladys, who wore a straw hat to protect herself from the sun, pointing to an improvised stage where minutes before she had joined a gorup of migrant mothers to put on a short performance depicting the separation of parents from their children.
Carmen Sanchez, also from El Salvador, has no children in the US but has been in this country for 23 years and doesn’t want to return to her homeland. “If I returned to my country, I’d have no job and no way to support my family. I have three kids who I’m supporting” in El Salvador, she said.
Sanchez told EFE that she decided to migrate to the US “not on a whim, nobody migrates on a whim,” but rather because she needed to due to the lack of security in her country.
“I have two jobs, one day job and another night job. The years I’ve been in this country I’ve paid my taxes, I’ve complied with the government. I want my residence permit,” she said, wearing a leather belt bearing the words “Permanent Residence” in English.
Last November, the US government announced the extension of TPS for nationals of El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua until June 2024, and participants at the demonstration, who later headed toward the US Capitol, said they want it extended even beyond that date.
At the protest, organized by the National TPS Alliance, demonstrators were also calling for TPS migration relief for Guatemalans, just a few days after the expiration of Title 42, a US health measure to rapidly expel undocumented migrants on the pretext of keeping potential coronavirus carriers out of the country.
The executive representative for the National TPS Alliance in Arkansas, Nelson Escobar, told EFE that the situation on the border is too politicized.
He said that quite apart from TPS, which is a temporary solution for Central American migrants, what the protesters and his organization are seeking is permanent residence for migrants. “The reason why we’re staying out on the street is because we don’t view that as impossible, but we also don’t see it as possible with the government about to enter the (2024) election season,” he said.