Catholic Leaders Urge Temporary Protected Status and Foreign Assistance for Central American Countries Devastated by Recent Hurricanes

February 10, 2021 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington, and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), have formally requested that the Biden Administration provide an 18-month designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for foreign nationals from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua—four Central American countries recently devastated by Hurricanes Eta and Iota in November. Under U.S. law, TPS is a temporary and renewable immigration protection that allows individuals to remain and work lawfully in the U.S. during a period in which it is deemed unsafe for them to return to their home country due to certain conditions, including environmental disaster.

In their letter dated February 10, 2021, Bishop Dorsonville, Bishop Malloy, and Mr. Callahan stated:

“Recent hurricanes Eta and Iota have devastated communities across Central America. In addition to providing life-saving humanitarian assistance to populations in need, the U.S. has a moral responsibility to provide foreign nationals from these countries currently present in the U.S. temporary humanitarian protection. . . .

“Undoubtedly, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala are facing the aftermath of an environmental disaster. Therefore, we strongly urge [the Administration] to designate TPS for these countries for a period of 18 months. Current conditions prevent foreign nationals from returning safely and managing their return would only add to existing challenges. This is compounded with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which further strains limited resources on the ground and imposes an added layer of complication for return.

“As Americans, we know such a response to be supported by the values, laws, and ideals that this country holds dear; and as Christians, we are called in a special way to make this plea. We therefore join with people of faith all across the U.S. in praying for a swift recovery from these devastating storms and a humane response to those impacted by them.”

Read the text of the full letter.

Learn more about TPS on the Justice for Immigrants website.

Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi and Miguel Guilarte