Testimony on Temporary Protected Status
Congressional Testimony of Dan Stein, Executive Director, Federation for American Immigration Reform
Submitted For IMMIGRATION AND CLAIMS SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
Thursday, March 4, 1999
This statement addresses the subjects of Temporary Protected Status (Immigration and Nationality Act section 244) and fraud associated with amnesty for illegal aliens adopted in the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act.
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to offer my organization’s perspective on a variety of problems connected with past immigration amnesties, class-based humanitarian parole and broad, “temporary” relief programs such as Temporary Protected Status (TPS) [Immigration and Nationality Act §244).
My name is Dan Stein, and I am executive director of FAIR. We are a national public interest organization with over 70,000 members across the country working to inform the American people about the costs and consequence of today’s mass and poorly-regulated immigration. FAIR does not receive any federal grants, contracts or subcontracts. 1999 will see the 20th anniversary of FAIR’s founding.
Mr. Chairman, we consider today’s mass immigration to be contrary to the national interest. Our agenda includes working for:
- a comprehensive immigration “time-out,”
- immigration laws that will serve the long-term national interest, and
- policies that will help stem the tide of illegal immigration.
FAIR seeks an end to mass immigration and a return to more traditional levels of no higher than 200,000 persons a year based on an objective assessment of our national need. FAIR believes that immigration levels should not fuel U.S. population growth, and that they should not compound or render more difficult U.S. priority goals in education, social spending, the stability of the American middle class, or current environmental and ecological objectives.
Mr. Chairman, this hearing is ultimately about whether this nation has the political will to try to restore integrity to the ideal that non-refugee aliens seeking temporary succor will keep up their side of the bargain and return home when it’s timely and proper to do so.
It is about a contract. A contract between the voters of this nation and the residents of other nations who claim to seek some form of temporary residence here. It is about whether they will be held to that bargain and return home when the event(s) that gave rise to the initial request for relief have been resolved.
Mr. Chairman, a fresh look by Congress at the operation of amnesties and temporary protection for aliens residing in our country is both timely and needed. We have seen the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) amnesty-which was to have been a one-of-its-kind event-repeated in the 1997 Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) legislation. That second amnesty also included a form of “rolling amnesty” of case-by-case removal of deportation on the basis of hardship for other Central Americans. This rolling amnesty is now the target of an effort by the Administration to make it into a full-blown amnesty through an across-the-board presumption of hardship for these resident aliens. We commend your efforts, Mr. Chairman, to head off this effort of the Administration to subvert the intent of Congress when it adopted the NACARA legislation.
These actions coincide with a new TPS designation following the devastation of Hurricane Mitch for Nicaraguans and Salvadorans residing here accompanied by a suspension of deportation of criminal aliens to Central America and agitation by interest groups pressuring for a broadening of TPS to include other groups.
What all these recent and on-going policy responses have in common is that efforts to administer aspects of our immigration law that are designed to reflect the humanitarian concerns of the American people are being used as a back door for illegal immigration into the United States. The American public supports compassionate policies, but it strongly opposes actions by foreigners that take advantage of our concern for our foreign neighbors.
Temporary Should Mean Temporary
We believe the ability and willingness of our country to provide much-needed humanitarian protection for endangered persons abroad depends upon a well-structured program that a) works as intended, and b) returns most humanitarian parolees, etc., home when the danger has passed. This ideal goal cannot be achieved when advocacy groups merely employ the subterfuge of generalized political instability, dramatic economic slowdowns or short-term weather-related crises as a means of queue-jumping for the preferred nationals de jour.
For the past twenty years, we have seen these programs transformed into backdoor immigration programs that are manipulated by the lobbying of foreign governments, ethnic lobbies and our own political leadership alike. Each special program that provides short-term relief has been followed by persistent demands for similar treatment by other groups and nationalities, not necessarily made up of persons in the same circumstances. It has now been politicized beyond recognition, and certainly no longer deserves the support of the general public.
Both issues today-class-based parole protection and large-scale amnesties-have their genesis in the same phenomenon: how do we remove large numbers of non-citizens who have been in the country in a quasi-legal or illegal status for an extended period of time. It all began with the expansion of Executive Branch discretion in the use (abuse, perhaps) of parole.
In fact, it all began with the Cuban crises in the early and mid-1960’s. The flood of Cubans seeking to avoid the rigors and controls of the Castro regime were paroled in by the Attorney General. When Congress concluded that the individualized grant of parole had been abandoned in favor of “status relief,” it intervened with the Cuban Adjustment Act in 1966 that sought to provide some statutory basis for parole.
Since then, there has been a constant tension between the congressional desire to contain parole and other, sometimes self-asserted, prerogatives of the Attorney General to admit inadmissible aliens and the Executive Branch’s willingness to expand its discretionary powers to waive entry controls when the politics of the moment dictate its feasibility. Large numbers of Mexican nationals enter illegally without inspection. Rather than remove them through aggressive interior enforcement, Congress, at Executive Branch urging, enacted an amnesty program for over 3 million formerly illegal aliens; a majority of whom were Mexican nationals. Other groups of non-refugees and asylees, notably Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, Haitians, Hondurans and others, have lately been paroled into the country for short-term reasons. Both phenomena send a signal to the home country that a “demand at the gate,” or a successful illegal entry will eventually produce a coveted green card. Both foster more migration pressure on Americans and legal residents where they settle; both produce pressure on Congress; both produce pressure on the INS. These mass parole programs in particular, sanctioned by the Attorney General, in turn produce repeated clamor for legislative solutions to let them stay permanently and petition for additional relatives.
In virtually every case, the U.S. has shown a complete absence of resolve, a complete absence of commitment to encouraging these aliens to return home and rebuild their nations. Sometimes, for entirely bureaucratic or PR-related reasons, the INS itself works to help find ways to get them to stay. The cumulative effects on the INS have grown until, today, it has collapsed under pressures in part of its own making.
In A Nutshell: The Core Problems
Although immigration policy challenges are all unique, there have been a series of recurring problems that have emerged since 1975.
- “TEMPORARY” ONLY MEANS DELAYED PERMANENT RESIDENCE. We have had a variety of humanitarian parole programs for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, Poles, Ethiopians, Russians, Liberians, the list goes on. In virtually every case, our government has failed to prevent the program from becoming a permanent immigration program. The government willfully refuses to find and return those given a temporary reprieve from deportation once the relief period has ended.
- THE PUBLIC IS MISLEAD, LIED-TO, CAJOLED AND TAXED. The general public knows and understands very little of how these sorts of programs are initiated and carried out. The costs are borne by state and local taxpayers who have been led to believe the humanitarian admissions are not short-term protection. Costs and impacts on public institutions such as schools, infrastructure, jobs, and housing are sprung on unsuspecting communities which are never given any real say in the choices and decisions that lead to these mass parole admissions. Local community officials, believing they have no say or control over the numbers of parolees and their manner of entry, are reduced to making demands on the Federal Government for reparations. Other politicians, seeking the future votes of these new residents, pander to their narrow interests at the expense of the larger community’s interests and wishes.
- THE PROGRAMS ARE FRAUD-RIDDEN, TENDING TO UNDERMINE PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN THE COMPETENCE AND RELIABILITY OF THE GOVERNMENT. THE INS ITSELF LACKS THE MEANS, CAPACITY, WISDOM AND FORESIGHT TO COMMIT TO THE TASK OF CAREFULLY SCRUTINIZING THE FACTS ALLEGED IN CLAIMS FOR SPECIAL RELIEF. The estimated 70 percent fraud rate for the 1986 agricultural worker amnesty is the all-time record for an immigration relief program that went wrong. The 1.1 million persons who received amnesty for past field work is at least three times the number that should have qualified under any plausible estimate of the size of the agricultural workforce during the qualifying years specified by the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. An extreme case, perhaps, but symptomatic of an INS that is incapable of scrutinizing the facts underlying applications for relief. Fraud rates vary from program to program, but class-based relief persistently creates a “numbers crisis” in the agency that invites fraud and abuse.
- ONCE THE DANGER OR CATASTROPHE HAS SUBSIDED, FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS THEMSELVES PUSH TO PREVENT THEIR OWN NATIONALS FROM HAVING TO RETURN HOME, APPARENTLY BELIEVING THAT REMITTANCES SENT HOME ARE A BETTER FORM OF FOREIGN AID THAN SECURING THE RETURN OF WORKERS EXPERIENCED IN THE U.S. ECONOMY. THEY HAVE SHOWN NO QUALMS ABOUT EXPLOITING THESE HUMANITARIAN RELIEF PROGRAMS TO FURTHER PARTICULAR ECONOMIC, SOCIAL OR POLITICAL INTERESTS. Programs such as the mass grant of Extended Voluntary Departure, and later the statutory grant of Temporary Protected Status (and even later Deferred Enforced Departure) to, for example, Salvadorans has been transformed into a program to provide hard currency and remittances to an admittedly struggling economy. The leaders of these governments, invited by INA §244(b)(1)(B)(iii) to request TPS designation for their nationals, are often found in Washington lobbying the President and the Congress for extensions and permanent adjustments for their nationals in order to prevent their return. The desire of a foreign government to prevent the return of its own nationals -now routinely done on a mass basis involving hundreds of thousands of young, energetic foreigners-is an extraordinary evolution in international socio-cultural affairs; arguably it is one that ill-serves the long-term national economic interests of these sending nations.
Our laws should not reward illegal immigrants to the United States regardless of the political or natural upheavals in their homelands. Otherwise, experience shows that we will encourage further illegal immigration. By now, we should have learned from experience that TPS is misnamed-what we offer as “temporary” protection is most often seen by the aliens residing illegally in the United States as a foot in the door to legal permanent residence. They are happy to accept our offer of humanitarian concern, but they have no intention of departing the United States when TPS status expires.
It should be apparent from any close focus on the disparity between the intent of our policies and the practical effects that we can see, that this gap is eroding deterrence of our immigration laws. Congress needs to correct the balance between compassionate policies and protecting the public against uninvited and unwanted illegal immigrants. The American public needs to be reassured that it is not being taken advantage of by foreigners seeking greater economic opportunity through the opening of our hearts to victims of political or natural disasters.
Temporary Protected Status And Amnesties
The interrelationship between the TPS status enacted in 1990 and amnesty for aliens residing illegally in the United States unfortunately is clear. That link was unmistakably established in the debate surrounding treatment of natives of El Salvador who were specifically designated for TPS status in the 1990 Immigration Act. These aliens, who for the most part entered the country illegally in the 1980s, and were granted legal temporary protection and work permits as a result of the TPS designation, never went home after political stability was reestablished in their homeland. The fact that they had been covered by TPS-and later by Deferred Enforcement of Departure-and during this period had put down roots, had acquired U.S.-born children, had been legally working and paying taxes was cited as a reason that they should be incorporated into our society rather than forced to leave.
Mr. Chairman, the issue involved in both temporary protection and amnesty is the compassion of the American public for foreigners in out midst facing hardship if they must return to their homelands. We should be very clear that we are not discussing a situation where we have international obligations such as that under the Refugee Convention. If these persons in the United States have a well-founded fear of persecution they qualify for asylum under INA §208. Our law takes care of these cases without any need for temporary protection. We should also be clear that the vast majority of persons who have benefitted from TPS status are not people who are caught in the United States on a visit or as students when a revolution sweeps their homeland, that is legal temporary visitors. The vast majority of beneficiaries have been aliens who illegally entered the country. They are persons who came here seeking permanent residence, not a temporary respite from unsettled conditions at home.
Mr. Chairman, the compassion of the American people for foreigners confronting political or natural disasters is a precious commodity. It is a resource that is not limitless. It should not be dissipated in situations that are justified only by convenience for the aliens or the foreign government or even the U.S. government. The test must be the support of the U.S. public.
It is the view of FAIR that the U.S. public does not support the expenditure of its compassion on aliens who entered this country illegally seeking to acquire residence through the backdoor. Unwise expenditure of the American public’s compassion will surely backfire and it will become harder to obtain public support of international humanitarian policies of our government. At the same time, we recognize that it becomes harder to remove illegal aliens the longer that they have avoided apprehension and removal and have become entrenched in our communities.
Temporary Protected Status
The term “temporary” in TPS is a misnomer. While TPS status has expired for nationals of some countries, such as Lebanese, who benefitted from that status between 1991 and 1993, more of the beneficiaries have never left temporary protection-like Liberians who have had TPS since 1991-or have been granted permanent residence through an amnesty, like the Salvadorans. To our knowledge, Mr. Chairman, there is no convincing evidence that any of the beneficiaries of TPS who were in illegal status when TPS was adopted ever left the United States voluntarily after the end of the status, or were deported by the INS for refusal to leave. That fact underscores the fact that while we may think of TPS as a temporary measure, that isn’t what the illegal alien beneficiaries have in mind. Therefore, all we are doing when we extend TPS protection to illegal aliens is assist them in their effort to abuse our hospitality and our laws.
In addition to being a misleading term, TPS has the effect of attracting further illegal immigration from countries whose nationals have been designated for TPS. This is a problem that was foreseen before TPS was ever adapted. For example, FAIR made clear in the hearings of 1987 on adoption of a “Safehaven” provision that any form of legal temporary protection from deportation for aliens illegally in the United States would act as a magnet for further illegal immigration. In theory, TPS should not act as a magnet for further illegal immigration, because it applies only to persons in the United States at the time that the TPS designation was made. In other words, persons from the beneficiary country who are outside the United States on that date are not eligible for the benefit if they subsequently arrive here. But, that theoretical distinction has not worked in practice. In the 1994 debate over making a TPS designation for Haitians in the United States, Congressman Porter Gross (R-Fla.) demonstrated his understanding of the reality of TPS when he said “TPS will cause a flood of Haitians to the U.S.”
Somehow, however, the Administration appears to have been taken by surprise to learn that the designation of TPS status for Salvadorans and Nicaraguans in the United States last December when Hurricane Mitch devastated their homelands was taken as a signal by thousands of their countrymen that the United States would issue work permits to them if they could get to our country. Actually, this view-that the Central Americans are confused by the terms of the TPS status and will halt their migration to the United States once the fact that they are not eligible is explained to them-is hopelessly naive. In the current situation, what the Central Americans clearly understand is that once the United States has signalled its intention to extend its compassion to persons in the United States from a given country, the United States is going to be more hard-pressed to deport anyone from that country. In addition, the TPS designation opens up a Pandora’s box of possibilities for later arriving illegal immigrants to fraudulently claim that they arrived in the United States before the TPS designation. Experience with the 1986 amnesty for illegal aliens, which also contained eligibility cut-off dates, clearly established that any system that depends on date-of-arrival documentation will be rapidly corrupted by false documentation.
The current flood of Central Americans seeking to illegally enter the United States can better be dealt with if we understand that these persons are knowingly attempting to gain a foothold in the United States for the purpose of permanent residence. They are not seeking temporary protection. The other relevant consideration in the minds of the Central Americans is that in 1986 we adopted the first amnesty for established illegal aliens-granting legal status to around three million-followed by the amnesty for illegal aliens from Nicaragua and El Salvador last year. To them, the emerging pattern suggests that the odds of eventually receiving the same benefit are increasing. Following the magnet of better-paying jobs and better prospects for the long-term future that draw illegal immigrants is a rational decision on their part that will continue to draw increasing numbers of illegal entrants until such time as we adopt measures that change the odds and make it a more rational decision to stay home.
Legislative Correction For TPS
Our understanding of the underlying problems with TPS status-compassion of the American public and illegal alien entrenchment over time-lead us to conclude that TPS must be narrowed in scope. We should provide temporary protection only to persons who entered that United Sates legally and were in legal status at the time that the conditions in their homeland changed and led to adoption of TPS. To fail to adopt this corrective measure risks undermining the American public’s support for a compassionate protection policy for the truly needy. Americans are already tired of their compassion being abused.
The absence of such a limitation assures that illegal alien beneficiaries of TPS will remain longer in the United Sates and generates greater pressures for the adoption of an amnesty on their behalf. Removal of TPS coverage for illegal aliens would also go a long way toward ending the magnet effect that attracts more illegal immigration from countries covered by TPS.
Responding To Mass Illegal Immigration
The Administration’s glazed stare at thousands of Central American entering illegally across the border from Mexico, as if it didn’t know what was happening or what to do about it, is disingenuous. The Administration encountered an early, similar test of its handling of illegal migration when presidential candidate Bill Clinton subsequently was elected after he endorsed a kid-glove approach to illegal entrants from Cuba. Perceptions that the new Administration wouldn’t be able to say “no” led to a flood of Cuban and Haitian rafters and boat people. Only after tens of thousands had arrived and sought “temporary” protection did the Administration learn that to stabilize the situation it had to adopt a firm policy that denied entry to illegal migrants. It had to open up detention camps at the Guantanamo naval base to accomplish that objective. And it worked.
Of course, the Clinton Administration should have understood the need for that firm response from the outset of the crisis from studying the experience in the early 1980s with a similar flow of illegal migrants from Central American. That flow, too, was not stanched until temporary detention camps were opened near the border to provide shelter but to deny the illegal entrants access to the U.S. job market. The flow of illegal aliens from Central America dried up almost overnight.
Clearly the lessons of the early 1980s with Central American illegal migration and the early 1990s with illegal Caribbean migration are applicable today to the new Central American flow. The opening up of temporary detention facilities along the border should be even easier to accomplish today than it was in the 1980s. Since the time of the Cuban-Haitian boat people surge, the Administration has been developing, refining, and testing contingency plans for immigration emergencies. All that is necessary now is for the Administration to acknowledge that those measures are needed to deal with the present situation and to implement them. FAIR calls on the Administration to immediately declare an immigration emergency and to stem the flow of illegal immigration from Central America by opening new detention facilities along the U.S.-Mexican border.
The Flaw In Amnesty Provisions
An amnesty was adopted in the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) because illegal immigration had so gotten out of hand; the estimated number of illegal aliens was in the millions, and the idea of identifying and removing such a large number had become a daunting prospect. In addition, special interests, especially seasonal crop agricultural interests, claimed to need the illegal work force that would have been deported. Support for the amnesty was generated by the argument that it would be a one-time event-never to be repeated-because illegal aliens would cease coming once the employer sanctions were adopted to effectively deny jobs to illegal aliens.
We know now that the IRCA employer sanctions were unwise by the rapid rise of an illegal trade in false identity documents. Not only did the new system not work, illegal immigration began to increase after an initial hiatus caused by the perception of a more hostile environment of illegal aliens. Today the illegal alien population vastly exceeds the one in 1986.
Studies of the IRCA legalization program document wide-scale fraudulent efforts to benefit from the amnesty. Aliens could prove residence in the United States since before 1992 with documents that could easily be falsified, such as payroll receipts. Similarly, work in agricultural labor, the qualifying standard that required less prior length of stay in the United States, could be documented with letters or payroll receipts. The fact that there was any effort to screen the beneficiaries-undermined as it was by the ready availability of false documents to allow the alien to cheat the screening mechanism-is testimony to the dedication and the professionalism of the INS career staff.
As of May 12, 1991, the INS had received 1,760,943 applications under the general amnesty and 1,274,228 applications under the agricultural worker provision. As of September 1996, 2.7 million illegal aliens had been adjusted to legal residence, 1.6 million by the general amnesty and 1.1 million by the agriculture worker amnesty. The more than 300,000 applications by persons identifying themselves as illegal aliens who did not receive the amnesty must have been denied on the basis of fraud or otherwise failed to pursue their application. The fraud was major (with a non-conferral for nearly 168,000, or over 10 percent) in the general amnesty and was far greater in the agricultural worker program (with a non-conferral of amnesty for over 182,000 or nearly 17 percent). Independent studies document that these numbers of fraudulent applications were only the tip of the iceberg.
This fraud on the American public was facilitated by the withholding of adequate investigatory staff to screen applicants for eligibility. A standard of “just and reasonable inference” that an alien was eligible for the amnesty was established by the implementing rules. This provision transferred the burden of proof to the INS to disprove the applicant’s eligibility. In the Western region, where about a third of the amnesty applicants resided, the entire investigatory personnel made available to the IRCA implementation staff consisted of two persons. Is it any wonder that fraud was rampant?
Mr. Chairman, we are unaware of any record compiled by the INS of efforts to locate and remove illegal aliens who filed applications for the amnesty and then abandoned them or were denied amnesty on the basis of fraud. You are aware of our firm conviction that detention and removal of illegal and criminal aliens is the fulcrum upon which the integrity of our immigration law hinges. The integrity of the system was weakened to the extent that no effort was made by the INS to apply the legal framework adopted in the 1986 IRCA by removing illegal aliens who did not qualify for the amnesty.
We are convinced that the 1986 IRCA began the massive erosion of the deterrents against illegal immigration. The use of fake documents to circumvent the amnesty screening process presaged the mushrooming industry in the production for counterfeit social security cards and driver’s licenses to circumvent the new employer sanctions provisions of IRCA.
Americans tend to assume that aliens will respect our immigration law and will be honest in their dealings with U.S. Government authorities. Our experiences with the IRCA amnesty, and with the documentary requirements for new hires under that law, show that those assumptions are sadly misplaced. What our experience demonstrates, once again, is that a firm policy of enforcement including apprehension and removal is the key to establishing compliance with the law.
Amnesty Revisited And Current Implications
Rather than the one-time amnesty that was promised in 1986, the American people were presented a second amnesty in 1997 when the Administration called for permanent residence for Nicaraguans and Cubans and relaxed policies for suspension of deportation for national of El Salvador, Guatemala, the former Soviet Union and some Eastern Europeans that are the equivalent of a “rolling amnesty.” The “rolling amnesty” offers residence to aliens residing illegally in the United States, except on a case-by-case basis rather than as a blanket conferral. These provisions in the Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Acts (NACARA) have spun off further amnesty movements in which national from Central American countries other than Nicaragua are agitating fir the same broad amnesty that Nicaragua received. Haitians are also now clamoring to be included on the list.
The lesson is clear. The first amnesty in 1986 begat new amnesty expectations, and the follow-up amnesty in 1997 has further opened the floodgate of expectations. Recurring relief from deportation and legal status is not lost on other would-be illegal immigrants. The door appears to be swung wide for anyone who can succeed in getting into the country by fraud or stealth, with or without screening to determine whether they are a threat to the American public in terms of terrorism, diseases they may be carrying, criminal careers they may pursue in this country, or whether they incur a significant burden to the American taxpayer.
The Only True Remedy To Increasing Illegal Immigration
Those who are coming and staying illegally in the United States will remain undeterred unless there is a clear and unmistakable message to illegal aliens that there will be no more amnesties and that illegal residence in the United States will not be rewarded with permanent residence. That message was partially proclaimed in 1997 when provisions were adopted eliminating the section 245(i) system of recycling illegal residents into legal status with the payment of $1,000 fine. Another part of that message, adopted in 1997, was the requirement that aliens who have resided here illegally will have to wipe the slate clean by departing the United States and residing abroad for a significant period before they will be eligible to return for legal residence. However, that message was unfortunately diluted by the adoption of NACARA the next year.
What we need now is a clear and unequivocal statement by the Congress, hopefully endorsed by the Administration, that there will be no further amnesties for illegal aliens. The United States has evolved an immigration policy that is designed to be responsive to the nation’s needs. That policy enjoys the support of the American people as long as it is clear that it is not riddled with loopholes and that those who come either as temporary visitors or as immigrants have done so while respecting our laws.
Increasingly, we have seen our immigration law and policy dictated by special interests who do not have any regard to the consequences on our society outside of their narrow focus. FAIR calls on Congress to assume its traditional role as balancer of special interests with the overall national interest. Mr. Chairman, FAIR is prepared to assist you in your efforts to restore respect for America’s heritage of immigration in accordance with the nation’s laws.
1) TPS, and its administrative antecedents, has become a reaction to the virtual absence of effective interior enforcement by the INS. Slowly, but surely the initial 1986 amnesty precedent is merging with the procedure known as “Suspension of Deportation” in order to create a form of rolling amnesty on a nation-specific basis. This is the inevitable result of the complete failure of the INS to engage in effective interior enforcement. The latest INS interior enforcement strategy memo (1999) does not even contemplate using interior alien apprehensions as a benchmark of enforcement success. TPS and its antecedents become mere bureaucratic responses to a large nonresident alien population that the INS has been unable or unwilling to send home. It is hard to see how the present trends can be reversed without a radical shift in the INS’ philosophy and vision.
Since 1987, foreign groups that are able, have used the excuse that temporary forbearance is appropriate as a result of some generalized home-country conditions that render mass repatriation undesirable. Years later, those same groups are still here, only now contending for permanent residence claiming a set of equities entirely unrelated to the original claims. Now the claims are based not only on the aliens’ length of residence in the U.S., but on the claim of “disparate treatment,” that other groups have gotten preferential treatment and to withhold similar treatment for them is “discrimination.”
Many of the groups demanding TPS and, later, permanent status have entered illegally; and so the program itself has become a magnet attracting more illegal residents for a wider variety of countries.
To end this cycle, Congress needs to speak with one voice on the importance of ending mass illegal immigration, and of the importance of equipping the INS (under professional, committed leadership) to handle the large-scale apprehension and deportations required to restore integrity to the rule of law.
No other agency of the Federal Government has had such a huge increase in its mission and in the number of persons with which it must try to deal. Adequate resources, especially adequate detention space, is the foundation on which all law enforcement rests.
2) TPS should only be available to populations that have entered the U.S. legally; it should be a program available only to those who are here in the normal course of affairs for whom returning would be a hardship. TPS is as much a convenience for the home country as for the alien itself, and should be viewed as an interim period of forbearance from enforced departure, not an interim amnesty for large classes of illegally resident aliens. Those who once receive TPS should not be permitted to jump from one administrative status to another. TPS cannot be a mere stepping stone to permanent residence. While TPS could be extended administratively, those who receive TPS should not be given any further opportunity to file claims for relief later under any other provision of U.S. law, other than as a result of a marriage to a U.S. Citizen. Once the status expires, the alien should not be permitted to apply for a Permanent Residence visa for at least two years. This should be made clear to the applicant at the time he/she applies for TPS.
3) Those receiving TPS are not refugees or asylees as recognized under U.S. law or international conventions and treaties to which the U.S. is a party. Their claims of hardship, while compelling in their own right, are not to be viewed as the basis of refugee admissions. Rather, they are immigration admissions; aliens granted the right to adjust as permanent residents should do so within existing annual visa allocations. Large scale grants of TPS and a rolling suspension of deportation should not be an add-on to the existing immigration flow. Rather, there needs to be an offset from future numerical allocations to compensate. Otherwise, the pressure can and will continue to grow to increase annual visa numbers.
4) The present efforts of the Administration to subvert the intent of Congress by broadening the case-by case review of Central Americans other than Nicaraguans for suspension of deportation under the guise of permanent hardship caused by Hurricane Mitch must be exposed by Congress as a new form of amnesty.
5) The Administration should be asked to invoke the immigration emergency authority it has to deal with the current large-scale influx of Central American illegal entrants. The release of these new illegal immigrants under the pretext that detention space is limited is a ruse. Attachment to testimony by Dan Stein, FAIR (Mar. 4, 1999)
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Beneficiary Countries
China — April 1990
El Salvador — Sept. 1990
Liberia — Mar. 1991
Kuwait — Mar. 1991
Lebanon — Mar. 1991
Somalia — Sept. 1991
Bosnia — Aug. 1992
Rwanda — June 1994
Sierra Leon — Nov. 1997
Burundi — Nov. 1997
Sudan — Nov. 1997
Montserrat — Aug. 1997
Kosovo — June 1998
Nicaragua — Dec. 1998
El Salvador — Dec. 1998