Fact-Finding Delegation Confirms That Deporting TPS Recipients Would Be Tantamount to a Death Sentence
Delegation Documents Severe Economic Stagnation, Staggering Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, and Forced Internal Displacement Due to Violence
Delegation Leader is Detained at Newark Airport
Boston, MA — June 5, 2018 — Today, Centro Presente, Alianza Americas, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice announce that their joint delegation completed its fact-finding mission in El Salvador and Honduras — both countries rocked by devastating news that the Trump Administration has cancelled their designation for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Takeaways from the delegation will be used to bolster a federal lawsuit filed by the Lawyers’ Committee and Centro Presente on behalf of TPS holders.
In a stark reminder of the U.S. government’s abuse of power and the serious challenges faced by immigrants in the United States, the Executive Director of Centro Presente, a Honduran-born U.S. citizen, was improperly detained by federal officials at Newark Airport. She is now safely in Boston, where the joint delegation released the initial findings from its week-long fact-finding mission.
In Honduras, from May 28 to May 30, the delegation met with the life partner of a political prisoner and with numerous women’s rights groups, community leaders, economists, and non-governmental organizations documenting systemic state-sponsored violence and egregious human rights abuses.
In El Salvador, from May 30 to June 1, the delegation visited the morgue where dismembered remains of individuals subjected to police and gang violence are collected and analyzed; and toured government facilities where immigrants deported by the Trump Administration are received. The delegation also met with numerous community leaders, economists, human rights advocates, and non-governmental organizations tracking the displacement and violence generated by escalating conflict between police officers and gang members.
The delegation’s initial findings and observations include:
- Multiple sources confirmed that the deportation of TPS recipients would be tantamount to a death sentence. Widespread reports in Honduras and El Salvador – well-documented by local media and advocacy groups – confirm that recently deported immigrants are prime targets for extortion and violence. Deported immigrants are perceived by gangs as having access to money through personal savings and relatives in the United States. A growing number of deported immigrants have been found dead within weeks and even days of arriving in El Salvador or Honduras.
- In Honduras, a woman is killed every 16 hours. In El Salvador, a woman is killed every 19 hours. Over 95 percent of cases involving sexual violence or domestic violence are not investigated – let alone resolved – in Honduras. Similar concerns are voiced by women’s rights advocates in El Salvador.
- Forced internal displacement due to escalating police and gang violence is a growing social problem in both Honduras and El Salvador. In Honduras alone, advocates estimate at least 500,000 displaced persons. Affected families and children are providing alarming reports of being displaced by extortion and extrajudicial executions carried out by death squads.
- In Honduras, community groups report government imprisonment of at least five political prisoners, and at least 24 students have been expelled from the National Autonomous University of Honduras for exercising their constitutionally-protected freedom of speech. The country is wracked by crippling political instability. The current president is widely viewed as a dictator installed through an illegitimate election marked by voter fraud and violence.
- The stagnant Honduran and Salvadoran economies trap families in poverty. In Honduras, nearly 80 percent of the country lives in poverty, with an estimated 56 percent living in extreme poverty, defined as surviving on less than $1 a day. As a leading human rights advocate reported in Honduras: “People have no jobs and are dying from hunger.” In El Salvador, one third of the country lives in poverty – and this staggering poverty level has remained virtually unchanged since the country was designated for TPS.
- Remittances account for 17 percent of the Honduras GDP and 20 percent of the Salvadoran GDP. In El Salvador, 17 percent of households receive remittances. In these Salvadoran households, remittances account for 30 percent of the household income. The remittances of TPS recipients are a critical lifeline for poor families and the weak national economy.
After spending dozens of hours documenting country conditions, the delegation confirms that the deportation of tens of thousands of TPS recipients would devastate Honduras and El Salvador. These countries do not have the infrastructure – let alone jobs and housing – to receive TPS recipients and their families.
The delegation’s observations are consistent with what federal authorities – in both Republican and Democratic administrations – have previously found on numerous occasions: that Honduras and El Salvador are plagued by stagnant economies, food insecurity, extreme gang violence, gender-based violence, and ill-functioning infrastructure that makes these countries unsafe for their nationals to return. In light of these unstable conditions, TPS provides safe haven for Hondurans and Salvadorans in the United States. In an abrupt departure from these findings, however, the Trump Administration recently announced its decision to terminate TPS status for Hondurans and Salvadorans. As it stands, TPS is set to terminate for Salvadorans on September 9, 2019; and for Hondurans on January 5, 2020.
The delegation will soon release a comprehensive report outlining in greater detail the conditions that TPS recipient families and children would confront if they are forcibly deported to Central America by the Trump Administration.
Additional information on the federal lawsuit filed by the Lawyers’ Committee and Centro Presente is available here: http://lawyerscom.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Amended-Complaint-As-Filed.pdf.