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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219


For media inquiries only, contact:  
Michael Kelly, Director of Communications
Phone: (804)786-5874 
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~ Letter to House, Senate Leaders Advocates for Bill to Allow TPS Beneficiaries to Remain ~

RICHMOND (March 13, 2018) - Today, Attorney General Mark R. Herring joined a coalition of 19 states in a letter urging congressional leaders to protect long-time Virginia residents from being forced to return to dangerous conditions in Haiti, El Salvador and other countries. The letter urges Congress to pass a bill allowing recipients of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from Haiti, El Salvador and other nations to adjust to permanent resident status. Virginia is home to more than 20,000 El Salvadorans who were granted TPS after a series of earthquakes in 2001 caused widespread damage in the country.


"These men, women, and children who came to Virginia as refugees have become valued and important members of our communities. They have opened businesses, built careers, bought homes, and in many cases started families with children or spouses who are U.S. citizens," said Attorney General Herring. "To end this program now would needlessly pull the rug out from all these families who sought safety and opportunity in this country and this Commonwealth. I'm hopeful that Congress will come together to offer stability and security to these long-time residents of Virginia."


Federal law provides for TPS, which offers temporary lawful status to foreign nationals in the United States from countries experiencing armed conflict, natural disaster, or other extraordinary conditions that temporarily prevent their safe return. The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a particular country for TPS for periods of 6 to 18 months, and can extend these periods if conditions do not improve sufficiently in the designated country.


Recently, the Secretary of Homeland Security decided to terminate TPS designations for Haiti and El Salvador. Haitians were granted TPS status in the wake of the January 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people in Haiti and devastated the nation's already-fragile economy, infrastructure, government and health system. El Salvadorians were granted TPS status in 2001, following a series of natural disasters and ensuing economic and political crises. The designations have been renewed regularly for both groups because previous presidential administrations have found the countries could not ensure sufficient safety for returning nationals.


"The thousands of TPS beneficiaries who reside in our states are long-time residents who have made substantial contributions to our communities and economies," the letter notes, adding that TPS beneficiaries have more than 275,000 U.S.-born children and contribute more than $4.5 billion to the United States' gross domestic product.

The termination of TPS for these nations will put hundreds of thousands of people in the difficult position of choosing whether to return to their countries of origin, with or without their children, when their home countries may not be in the position to receive them.


In addition to Attorney General Herring, the letter, which was led by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, is signed by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.



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