Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today wrote a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Guatemalan nationals currently residing in the United States.
TPS is often granted to nationals of a country who are temporarily unable to safely return to their homeland because of armed conflict or a natural disaster. Guatemala has recently been hit with two natural disasters -- a devastating volcano eruption and tropical storm -- both of which further destabilized the already impoverished nation.
"The people of Guatemala are in a desperate situation after the eruption of the Pacaya Volcano and the destruction caused by Tropical Storm Agatha. Massachusetts is home to thousands of Guatemalan nationals who have been living and working here peacefully and legally for years. They should not be forced to return to a ravaged homeland where their most basic human needs cannot be met. I strongly urge President Obama to grant these folks Temporary Protected Status just like we have for others facing similar crises -- it is the only fair thing to do," said Senator Kerry.
July 15, 2010
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
I write to urge you to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Guatemalan nationals currently residing within our borders. Guatemala has recently been hit with two natural disasters, further destabilizing the already impoverished nation. Following the eruption of the Pacaya Volcano and the destruction caused by Tropical Storm Agatha, President Colom was forced to declare a State of Public Calamity for the entire country. Guatemala has presented a request to the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security for TPS and I respectfully request that you support this application.
I have heard from many of my Guatemalan constituents as well as constituents with significant ties to Guatemala. I am told that, in addition to a recent surge in narcotics violence, increased gang presence, and crippling poverty rates, Guatemala now finds themselves in a state of recovery and rebuilding. Torrential rains and mudslides have left over a hundred thousand homeless, washed out bridges and buildings, and killed at least 174 people. As with many of these disasters, it is the poorest and the neediest that have felt this the most.
While Guatemala begins to try to find shelter for those whose homes were destroyed, repair the infrastructure and rebuild, it would be unnecessarily taxing for the Government of Guatemala to repatriate Guatemalan nationals at this time. Additionally, many Guatemalans currently in the United States are providing much needed economic support for their families, support that would cease without TPS.
The temporary assistance provided by TPS would go a long way to help Guatemala get back on their feet. Given the magnitude and relative proximity of these two natural disasters, and the preexisting challenges facing Guatemala, I respectfully request that you grant TPS to Guatemalan nationals as soon as possible.
John F. Kerry
United States Senate