WASHINGTON D.C. -- There is concern among families from El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua after a major announcement Monday by the Department of Homeland Security to take away Temporary Protected Status for visitors from a handful of countries.
The DMV has been home to more than 40,000 Central Americans registered under TPS for close to 20 years.
In that time, many have started families and now have children or grandchildren that they may be separated from or forced to take home when new rules take effect in September 2019.
“Nationally, there are just about as many U.S. citizen children as there are beneficiaries in the country,” said George Escobar, Director of Services at CASA de Maryland.
Noe Duarte has been in the United States since 2001 thanks to the TPS.
He’s been able to work construction, start a painting business and provide his family here with a stable place to live while they attend school.
Duarte believes that this policy change is only meant to disrupt families like his and not about national security.
“We’ve got to fight to see what we can do,” said Duarte.
Options for people like Duarte include applying for a green card. That’s something Duarte said he’s never been compelled to do because the TPS provided everything he needed to do things like earn a paycheck, apply for rent and finance purchases.
Escobar said there’s also the chance that CASA and other groups could use 2018 to find candidates for November’s election that could help them turn over enough Congressional and Senate seats to fight this move before this change takes effect in September 2019.