Jay Williams

While one committee was hearing from the Secretary of Homeland Security last week, the House Judiciary Committee convened a hearing on Protecting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Recipients.

The witness panel included Jim Park – Rhodes Scholar, DACA Recipient, Yatta Kiazolu, UCLA Ph.D. Candidate, DED Recipient, Yazmine Irazoqui Ruiz, University of New Mexico Medical Student, DACA Recipient, Jose Palma, Father, TPS Recipient, National Coordinator of the National TPS Alliance, Donald E. Graham, Co-Founder of Graham Holdings Company, Bishop Mario Dorsonville, Auxiliary Bishop Archdiocese of Washington D.C., Hilario Yanez – DACA Recipient, University of Houston Graduate, and Andrew R. Arthur, Resident Fellow in Law and Policy Center for Immigration Studies.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) offered opening remarks calling on Congress to work to establish more permanent protections for those who receive DACA status and TPS as well as a pathway to citizenship for both categories. Chairperson Nadler described the Trump Administration’s policy for removal of people protected by TPS, Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), and DACA as an injustice. He said what we should have is the correct policy and that “passing legislation for permanent protections for DACA, DED, and TPS” must be a priority.” He went on to say that it would be a priority for the Judiciary Committee.

CWLA has supported DACA or “DREAMERS” legislation that allows young people who arrived in the United States when they were children to stay in the U.S. and have a path to citizenship if they meet certain requirements. While DREAMERS legislation has been debated in several congresses, the issue of TPS individuals is a new issue to many.

Temporary Protected Status or TPS is granted by the Secretary of U.S. Department of Homeland Security to eligible foreign-born individuals, who are unable to return home safely due to conditions or circumstances preventing them from returning to their country. The Trump administration terminated TPS designations for six countries in 2019, and three more expire in 2020. Liberian TPS & DED recipients only have 27 days left to be in the country before being deported. There are less than 1000 Liberians who have lost their protections in the U.S. The Washington Post recently described one family being forced to leave the U.S.despite growing up here with roots in this country that can be traced to Civil War America.

These TPS individuals have lived in the US most of their lives and will be separated from their families and friends, jobs, education and experiences. This is causing alarm for over 700,000 people that the US initially allowed residency.

Several of the Committee witnesses included young people now being hurt by recent actions of this Administration. Yatta Kiazolu is an immigrant from Liberia who is receiving her Ph.D. in History from UCLA and has lived in the United States for most of her life. She is set to graduate her program in fall of this year but due to TPS termination, she is likely to be deported in the next month. Another witness was Jin Park who is not able to leave the United States to fulfill his Rhode Scholarship at Oxford University out of fear he cannot return.

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), a leader on immigration issues in past congresses, is expected to re-introduce a DREAMERS bill combined with broader immigration protections legislation. She will be joined by several Democrats and the bill is expected to cover a number of these immigration issues.