House Subcommittee Letter Available

As we reported yesterday, members of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere wrote to President Obama urging him to grant Guatemala’s TPS request.  We spoke to the office of Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), and received confirmation of the letter.  This morning we received an even better surprise: an actual copy of the letter, kindly forwarded to us by Representative Ros-Lehtinen’s office!

The letter is available for your viewing pleasure at this hand-crafted link, and the text of the letter is included below, for easy reference:

July 15,2010

The President

The White House

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write to urge you to immediately direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to offer Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Guatemalans currently in the United States for an appropriate length of time relative to the current crisis.

As you know, on May 29,2010, Guatemala was hit hard by two natural disasters – Tropical Storm Agatha and the eruption of the Pacaya Volcano. Tropical Storm Agatha caused devastating floods and mudslides throughout Guatemala. The two disasters left 174 people dead and 104,639 people homeless. Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom declared a State of Public Calamity in the entire country.

The socioeconomic impact of these disasters is estimated to be greater than either Tropical Storm Stan in 2005 or Hurricane Mitch in 1998. In addition to the immediate impact of Tropical Storm Agatha, torrential rains and mudslides continued to affect Guatemala throughout June.

As you are aware, nationals of a country may be designated for TPS when that country has suffered an environmental disaster resulting in a substantial, temporary disruption of living conditions and it is temporarily unable to handle adequately the return of its nationals. With Tropical Storm Agatha and the eruption of the Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala has more than exceeded the conditions for TPS designation.

Honduras and El Salvador were also affected, although to a lesser degree, by Tropical Storm Agatha. Citizens of both countries living in the United States currently receive TPS. In fact, TPS for Honduras, EI Salvador and Nicaragua was recently extended to 2012. Unfortunately, Guatemalans living in the United States enjoy no such benefits.

Additionally, we urge the U.S. to continue its focused approach to support the government of Guatemala in its efforts to restore order within the country and ensure an expedited and lasting recovery from this most recent disaster.

Extending TPS to Guatemalans currently living in the United States would provide significant humanitarian benefits. As Members of Congress who care deeply about the Western Hemisphere, we urge you to act swiftly to grant TPS to Guatemalans in the United States.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.


Eliot L. Engel
House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere

Connie Mack
Ranking Member
House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere

Jim McGovern
Vice Chairman
House Committee on Rules

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Ranking Member
House Committee on Foreign Affairs

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Representatives Engel, Mack, McGovern, and Ros-Lehtinen for their support on this important issue.  As the letter notes, the humanitarian benefits of TPS for Guatemalans would be significant, and would be well in line with our treatment of similarly situated nations.   It is incredibly encouraging to see bipartisan support for an issue that is so pressing to so many.

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