Photo: TPS Immigration
Activists here on Friday urged the U.S. government to convert the Temporary Protected Status extended to migrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua into legal permanent residence.
The appeal was made during a special session of the Los Angeles City Council to proclaim March 24 as Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero Day.
The Salvadoran prelate was slain on March 24, 1980.
“Every year, since 2005, the Los Angeles Council together with the Committee of Sister Cities Los Angeles-San Salvador honors the memory of Monsignor Romero,” Carlos Vaquerano, director of the Salvadoran American Leadership & Educational Fund, told Efe.
“And today, the organizations that defend the rights of immigrants announce the launch of a campaign for permanent legal residence for Salvadoran, Honduran and Nicaraguan beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status,” he said.
TPS is a benefit the U.S. extends on a discretionary basis to immigrants from countries experiencing armed conflicts or natural disasters.
Around 204,000 Salvadorans are registered for TPS, granted in their case after El Salvador was struck by two devastating earthquakes in the space of a month in early 2001. TPS has been authorized for 60,000 Hondurans and 3,000 Nicaraguans based on the damage done to their countries in 1998 by Hurricane Mitch.
If Romero were alive today, he would challenge the U.S. government for failing to offer poor immigrants the same opportunities to obtain legal residence that are available to more affluent foreigners, Vaquerano said.
“We’re sure that the monsignor would be together with us demanding that after more than 10 years in which the Central Americans have been working with TPS that that document turn into permanent residence,” he said.
Oscar Romero, 63, was murdered by right-wing gunmen as he was saying Mass in the chapel of San Salvador’s Divina Providencia Hospital.
The assassination, which came a day after the archbishop gave a sermon imploring members of El Salvador’s U.S.-backed military to defy their commanders by refusing to take part in acts of repression, was part of the buildup to a 12-year-long civil war that claimed some 75,000 lives.