By Tom Tancredo
Posted: February 06, 2010 ~ 1:00 am Eastern
Like most "emergency" programs set up by government, the benefits of gaining "Temporary Protected Status," or TPS, as a refugee do not expire when the emergency has passed. In government jargon, "temporary" can be 20 years – or forever.
The federal government has no system for tracking people previously awarded TPS since its inception in 1990. Thus, there is no way of knowing the total number of individuals now residing in the United States who first arrived under the TPS program, nor is there any reliable data on what percentage of TPS refugees eventually return home. But the nation's experience with the first decade of the program led the Center for Immigration Studies to conclude, "In the real world, there is nothing as permanent as a temporary refugee."
Within hours of the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, President Obama announced the awarding of Temporary Protected Status to Haitians in the United States – people here illegally before the earthquake, a number variously estimated at 100,000 to 200,000. Indeed, over the past 20 years, most TPS recipients were people already in the county, not people fleeing a disaster.
Thus, while the program is largely defended on the humanitarian grounds of offering temporary safety to genuine refugees, it is undeniable that historically, the main function of the TPS program has been to protect illegal aliens – people already here and thus not directly affected by any natural disaster – from the threat of deportation.
America has welcomed waves of authentic political refugees for over half a century. Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Cuba, Vietnam, Liberia, Kosovo and other nations have been granted asylum, but always by specific legislation targeted to a specific political crisis.
The creation of the TPS program in 1990 was sold to Congress and the American people as a way to "regularize" and streamline the handling of a new kind of refugee. By 1990 we had over 190,000 refugees from El Salvador who had been given various types of protected status because of a prolonged civil war. So, at that time, there was a "good government" argument for creating a legal mechanism for accommodating such refugees.
Nonetheless, this protection has always been justified as a "temporary measure," not as an expansion of our immigration program for permanent residents. By law, these "temporary refugees" are expected to return home when the emergency passes. Yet, the "emergency" that justified the TPS status never ends. Why is that?
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Sunday, February 07, 2010
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