Marin Voice: Rescinding ‘protected status’ runs counter to our nation’s values
Our Prioress General, Sister Maureen McInerney, OP recently wrote this editorial for our local Marin IJ newspaper.
Speaking on behalf of the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, I am deeply troubled by the decision of the Trump administration to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for more than 57,000 Hondurans. This is now the seventh group of people from other countries who have been stripped of their right to protection by this administration.
TPS was designed to protect people from being returned to harm. That is exactly what Hondurans will face if they are forced to return to a country in which violence, political repression and worsening environmental challenges are making life almost impossible.
TPS allows immigrants from a short list of countries to live and work in the United States after extraordinary circumstances in their countries of origin, such as war or natural disaster. Honduras received its TPS designation in 1998, in the wake of Hurricane Mitch.
Life has only grown more difficult in the interim and even worse since last November, when Juan Orlando Hernandez was re-elected president amidst allegations of electoral fraud and unconstitutionality. When the people of Honduras mobilized in opposition to the fraudulent election results, U.S.-trained state security forces responded with violence, resulting in deaths, arrests and imprisonments.
Last November, at our annual Assembly, we voted to take a stance as a congregation in favor of immigration reform and solidarity with migrants seeking asylum, sanctuary and family unification. Our position is a follow-on to the stance we took in the early 1980s on sanctuary for Salvadoran and Guatemalan refugees, and when we provided homes for two Central American families in our motherhouse.
Our stances for justice inform our actions. For example, our sisters are quite active in local, state and national advocacy efforts for policies that protect the due process of immigrants, promoting their full dignity and integration into our communities. We participate in rapid response teams here in Marin in the event of ICE actions. We have volunteered with other Catholic sisters in El Paso, Texas, where refugees from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador have been detained. In other words, as Dominicans, we do more than talk about the issues. We study, reflect, share and act.
The fact is that Hondurans have been contributing members of our communities for 20 years. They have raised families, paid taxes, and contributed to the growth and development of this country even as U.S. foreign policy compounds the persistent poverty and violence that destabilizes Honduras.
Rescinding TPS from human beings who suffer under continuing threats of violence is inconsistent with the long-standing values of this nation and with our belief in the God-given dignity of all people.
The shortsighted decision to rescind TPS protection for the citizens of Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, Nepal, Liberia, Nicaragua and Sudan places us all at risk. It now brings the number to approximately 315,000 of our neighbors, friends, parishioners, co-workers and colleagues whose gifts will be lost to us all. We know that people from these targeted countries live here in Marin County. Ending their protection means tearing families apart, fragmenting our communities, disrupting local economies and placing their well-being at risk.
As Catholic sisters, we will continue to abide by Scripture in welcoming the stranger and caring for those in need. We urge the Trump administration to reconsider its decisions and we call on Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to develop legislative solutions to protect vulnerable people. We ask you to join us in contacting our representatives and letting them know what you think about stripping protections away from vulnerable people who have no safe place to go.