Cover illustration by artist Joe Bravo.

More families are at risk for separation after President Trump dismantles the TPS program.

On the website GoFundMe, people ask for monetary help to solve a number of issues from paying for medical treatment to funerals and, in recent years, immigration cases. 

An account to raise funds for legal support has been created for Blanca Moran, one of thousands of TPS immigrants who are likely to be the next facing deportation and family separation.

“Blanca currently is living and working in the United States on a Temporary Protection Status (TPS) permit. She is one of the individuals here on TPS who meets criteria to adjust her status to become a legal permanent resident,” reads the comment on the account.

“We are raising money to help her with the legal fees for this process. She has saved $1,500. The total cost is $5,700 — which includes legal fees ($4,000) and fees to file with Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE)($1,700),” it adds.

“Blanca has lived and worked in Los Angeles for the past 28 years. She has two daughters and a husband. She has worked hard to support her children through college, and contribute to her community.  She rescues and fosters stray dogs and cats.

She gives back to other immigrants in Los Angeles, by taking people into her home and helping them to find access to resources and services. She is kind, caring and compassionate,” it says.

Congress created TPS in 1990 to establish a uniform system for granting temporary protection to people unable to return to their home countries because of a political or environmental catastrophe. The average TPS holder has lived in the US for 19 years.

Since then, more than 300,000 Haitians, Hondurans, Nicaraguans and Somalis (and other immigrants) have received work permits and been allowed to stay in the country without fear of deportation after paying nearly $500 every 18 months. To remain in the program, they must hold a job and not violate the law.

Haitians were eligible after an earthquake in 2010 caused massive destruction in the Caribbean island. Hondurans could enter after Hurricane Mitch in 1998 left that country in shambles.

Salvadorans were granted access to the program after a pair of earthquakes in 2001 decimated the tiny Central American nation. Somalis came after the African country descended into a bloody civil war in 1991.

But President Donald Trump has dismantled this immigration program, ending it for all the immigrants from the above named countries and six others, creating an uncertain future for their families.

The End of TPS

This week, a federal judge in San Diego ordered the federal government to temporarily pause deportations of recently reunited families to allow attorneys time to debate whether he should more permanently extend that order.

As part of Trump’s “zero tolerance” stand, immigration authorities have separated hundreds of parents from their young children.

Judges have ordered them to reunite these families.

But, another family separation crisis is on the horizon, when TPS ends for all its beneficiaries.

Most programs end next year — Nicaragua on Jan. 5, 2019; Haiti on July 22, 2019; El Salvador on Sept. 9, 2019; and Honduras on January 5, 2020. The US government will make a decision on Somalia on July 19.

When that happens, TPS holder parents will be forced to decide whether to leave behind 273,000 American

-born children. Without a legislative solution, hundreds of thousands of children could be separated from their parents or forced into violent and potentially deadly environments, if they return their parent’s home countries which to them, are foreign.

It will be children like Nilson, a US citizen and child of Salvadoran TPS holder parents, who said recently on a media teleconference, “I am 10 years old. I was born at the Fairfax hospital in Virginia.

“My mom and dad have TPS, which allows my family to stay together in this country. My family is very important to me.

“Without TPS and a permanent solution, we could be separated. I don’t know El Salvador. I don’t want my parents and brother and sister to be sent back,” the minor added.

Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a leading national pro-immigrant organization that organized the media teleconference, called the end of TPS an “unfolding crisis” and “another drama about to hit us.”

“Systematically ending TPS will have a huge impact on families and kids,” Sharry said.

Erick Francois’ family is one of those. The TPS holder from Haiti, said, “My wife and I work full time, we pay taxes. My son is 16 and my daughter is only 7-years-old. She doesn’t know Haiti. The United States is her home.”

Francois said that all of the problems he left behind in Haiti remain there. “People who lost their homes in the earthquake are still living in tents. We are so worried because we don’t see how we could take our children back to a country like that.”

Sara Mohamed, a TPS holder from Somalia, hasn’t been back to her country since 1992 and simply doesn’t know how she could go back.

“We want our children, who are American citizens, to go to college here and build their lives in this country. The US is all our children know. Separating us is ripping our family apart,” said the caretaker, who’s husband works in the service industry. They’re both in their 50s and she said they are “anxious and afraid.”

“I’m barely sleeping. We’re afraid of ICE coming into our home.”

Congress is the only savior

The only way for TPS holders to remain in the United States is through an act of Congress — something that’s not very likely despite the continuous efforts of activists.

On Monday, July 16, a delegation of children of TPS holders, clergy and business owners that are part of the National TPS Alliance convened in Washington, D.C., to advocate for such a solution.

Jill Marie Bussey, director of Advocacy at CLINIC (Catholic Legal Immigration Network), said, “It is clear the Trump Administration has declared war on immigrant families, both new arrivals and those who have called the US home for years. This looming crisis for TPS holders — that will rip families apart — is man-made and completely avoidable.

“A failure for Congress to act urgently makes them complacent in this inhumane scheme. To members of Congress, I ask is it fair that families are faced with these impossible questions?” she continued.

When asked by the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol if they would remain the country as undocumented immigrants if no solution is found for them, both Francois and Mohamed remained silent. However, it’s known that other TPS holders are planning on doing just that, by moving to other states and even Canada.

Yet the optimism remains.

“My hope is that Congress will fix this TPS problem because it would be a disaster for my family. If they end TPS, we cannot stay here and I do not want the government to take my daughter away from me,” Francois said.

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