Temporary status for immigrants shouldn’t mean permanent residency

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Between now and Jan. 18, the deadlines for extending or terminating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 90 percent of all foreign nationals who hold that status will elapse. In complete disregard for the fact that the “T” in TPS stands for temporary, some 300,000 citizens of Honduras, El Salvador, and Haiti, have been allowed to remain and work in the United States as a result of natural disasters that struck those countries — as long ago as 1998 in the case of Honduras.

For a variety of reasons it is time to end TPS for these three nations. The United States has more than fulfilled its ethical obligation to assist these neighbors during their time of crisis. In all honesty, these countries were not exactly Gardens of Eden before they were struck by hurricanes and earthquakes. After billions in foreign aid and years of rebuilding, these countries are now functioning about as well as they did before the disasters hit and about as well as they are likely to function for the foreseeable future.

The people who accepted our offer of TPS did so with the full understanding that the benefit was a temporary one and that, at some point, they would be required to leave. Lobbying by mass immigration advocates in this country and (shamefully) their own governments, which have come to rely on the remittances sent home by workers in this country, has managed to keep people here long after the immediate crises that triggered TPS.

{mosads}To remedy these sorts of situations in the future, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) has introduced the TPS Reform Act, H.R. 2604, which would establish clear time limitations and statutory tests that must be met to grant the TPS designation. The lack of clear guidelines for when TPS protections should be offered or extended jeopardizes the program itself. Without reasonable assurance that the protections are temporary, and not a backdoor to permanent immigration, the American public will become increasingly resistant to granting TPS to others in cases where it might be warranted.


No doubt having to return home will be inconvenient and disruptive to their lives, but that is more of an argument against giving in to pleas for repeated extensions of TPS than it is in favor of granting yet another one. Likewise, ending TPS will cause some short-term disruption to the home countries from the loss of the remittances. However, in the long run, these nations stand to gain far more from the reintegration of their own citizens who, with the benefit of the education and work experience they have gained in the United States, are positioned to help their countries build stronger economies that do not rely on sending their best people abroad. 

Absent any compelling circumstances in the home countries that would justify yet another extension of TPS, advocates have concocted a desperate new argument for keeping them here. Led by the Center for American Progress and America’s Voice (key players on immigration policy in the Obama White House), advocates now claim that it is the United States that would suffer from the departure of 300,000 TPS beneficiaries.

Apparently counting on the fact that none of us knows how to divide by ten, and that we are unaware that current U.S. GDP is $18.57 trillion, CAP recently put out a report claiming that if TPS were terminated “the United States would lose $164 billion in GDP over the next decade … and would result in a $6.9 billion reduction to Social Security and Medicare contributions over a decade.”

Aside from the fact that the economic output of TPS beneficiaries could be easily replaced by the millions of working age adults who are currently out of the labor force, the impact on our economy would be negligible. The $16.4 billion a year that CAP claims would be lost amounts to less than 1/100th of one percent of GDP. Likewise, the $690 million they pay into Social Security is also less than 1/100th of one percent of the system’s annual intake.

President Trump was elected on a platform of cleaning up the myriad abuses in our immigration system. TPS is a prime example of a program that has abused the compassion of the American people. It is time for administration to restore the integrity of this humanitarian program by acknowledging that the T in TPS stands for temporary and requiring that those who have been here as our guests return home.

Ira Mehlman is media director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

Tags FAIR Immigration Ira Mehlman Mo Brooks Temporary protected status TPS

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