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The US has a long record of intervening in El Salvador’s affairs, from taking the side of dictators in civil conflicts to attempting to influence elections after the Peace Accords were signed and democracy was restored in the 1990’s,  US government representatives have frequently threatened to cut off US aid or remittances sent home by Salvadorans living in the US unless they voted for the right-wing ARENA party.  Currently, President Trump’s frequent threats to cut aid to El Salvador are being used by the right-wing media in El Salvador as part of a smear campaign against the current administration in El Salvador (FMLN party) and as a way to intimidate voters in the February 3 Presidential elections.

Representatives Grijalva (D-AZ), Beyer (D-VA) and Serrano (D-NY) are circulating a Congressional  sign-on letter, calling on the Trump Administration to refrain from positioning themselves in any sort of partisan manner or making any statements to influence the decision of Salvadoran voters ahead of the elections. Please call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121, ask to be connected to your U.S. Representative’s office, ask to speak to the Foreign Policy staff member, and tell them why your Representative should sign onto this letter. If the Foreign Policy Staff member is not available, ask to be connected to their voice mail and leave a message or ask for their email and send your message to them in writing.

If you do not know the name of your representative, click here to find out.

Here is a sample script:

“Hi, my name is ________ and I am a constituent of Rep. _______. Representatives Grijalva, Beyer, and Serrano are circulating a Congressional sign-on letter calling on the Trump Administration to respect the democratic process in El Salvador in their upcoming February 3rd elections. Unfortunately, there has been a history in past elections of Republican Administrations making threats to cut off aid, deport Salvadorans from the U.S., or not allow Salvadorans living here to send money to family members in El Salvador if Salvadorans support candidates who are left of center and don’t vote for right-wing candidates.  Because many Salvadorans depend on money they receive from relatives in the U.S. for basic necessities, these public statements are frightening and can sway people’s votes. The U.S. should not interfere in another sovereign nation’s elections in this way.

We need Rep. ______ to sign onto this letter to let the Salvadoran people know that the U.S. will respect their democratic process. The deadline for signing on is this Friday, January 25. You can call Marilyn.Zepeda@mail.house.gov to sign on.”

To be most effective, follow up your phone call with an email and ask the Foreign Policy staff to let you know when your Representative makes a decision about signing on. Please copy shunter-smith@crln.org so CRLN can track the effectiveness of our network.

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American Promise Act of 2017 (H.R. 4253) – House of Representatives

SECURE Act (S.2144) – Senate

 

Action: Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121, ask to be connected to the office of your U.S. Representative, and ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 4253, or thank them if they have already signed on. Representatives Kelly, Gutierrez, Quigley, Davis and Schakowsky of Illinois have already signed on.  Repeat the calls to the offices of your Senators. In Illinois, Senator Duckworth has signed on, but Senator Durbin has not. 

 

Background: Until the recent past, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for renewable periods of 6 to 18 months to immigrant applicants from countries in which civil unrest, violence, epidemic or natural disasters made it unsafe for them to return to their countries. In return, immigrants could get registration documents and authorization to work. Up through January 1, 2017, there were people from 13 countries eligible for TPS.

Under the Trump Administration, DHS is conducting a country by country review to assess whether or not to extend TPS. So far, DHS has ruled that TPS holders from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Sudan will have to leave the U.S., despite continuing violence or lack of recovery from natural disasters in their countries of origin. TPS will continue for Syrians who came to the U.S. before August 2016, but those who came after that date cannot apply for TPS, despite the continuation of the war.

 

Bill summary: H.R. 4253 would change the status of eligible immigrants from 13 countries with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to a status of LPR, lawfully admitted for permanent residence. Immigrants would be eligible to apply if they were granted or were eligible for TPS status, or granted DED, on or before October 1, 2017. Immigrants must apply for this status change within 3 years of the bill’s date of enactment. After 5 years of LPR status, immigrants could apply to become U.S. citizens.

 

Status: Currently, it has 116 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, is in the House Judiciary Committee, and has been referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security. In the Senate, it has 22 co-sponsors and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Below are some talking points you can use:

  1. TPS holders have been in the U.S. for a long time and are well integrated into U.S. communities: Most TPS recipients have been in the U.S. for at least 15 years and many over a couple of decades. They have married U.S. citizens and/or have U.S. citizen children who were born here. It makes sense to naturalize TPS holders rather than deport them and separate them from their families and communities.
  2. TPS holders contribute a great deal to the U.S. economy. In addition, 88.5% of TPS holders are in the labor force, higher than the national average. They have jobs that are essential to the economic health of the U.S.Salvadoran, Honduran, and Haitian TPS recipients alone are projected to contribute an estimated $164 billion to America’s GDP over the next decade, according to the American Immigration Council. The AFSC cites the $6.9 billion they contribute to Social security and Medicare. They pay income taxes. Their work is integral to large industries such as construction, home health care, and hospitality.
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