Immigration advocates, families and supporters gathered Thursday evening outside the federal courthouse in downtown Las Vegas, waving American flags and toting signs demanding legal residency for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders.
This kind of activism is nothing new for those protected by TPS. They continually feel on the cusp of losing their right to live in the United States. So once again — after a recent Supreme Court decision — they gathered with their allies and urged President Joe Biden and Congress to create a pathway to permanent residency for TPS holders.
“Se ve, se siente, el pueblo está presente! Se ve, se escucha, estamos en la lucha! Ni COVID, ni el viento detiene el movimiento…” the group, organized by Arriba Las Vegas Workers Center, chanted in unison in Spanish, stating that they are present, they will be heard, they are in a battle and nothing will stop them, not even the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a blow to TPS holders and advocates who have longed for a pathway to citizenship, the Supreme Court issued a ruling earlier this week that bars TPS holders from adjusting their immigration status to become lawful permanent residents, or obtain “green cards,” if they entered the country unlawfully. TPS holders for years have been seeking a more stable and permanent solution to their temporary status, which must be renewed every 18 months.
The immigration status is granted to people from countries experiencing crises caused by natural disasters, war or poverty. TPS protects immigrants from deportation and grants them work authorization permits. Nevada is home to roughly 4,000 TPS holders and there are more than 400,000 TPS holders in the United States from a dozen countries, including El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras and Syria.
The ruling leaves TPS holders who were not vetted and authorized to enter the country by an immigration officer out of options as a major deadline approaches in early October, when the protected status expires for beneficiaries from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan. Without TPS, beneficiaries will lose legal work authorization and be subject to deportation.
“No somos uno, no somos cien, 11 millones, cuéntenos bien!” the group in Las Vegas continued chanting Thursday evening, saying that the fight is not just for one or a hundred people, and not just for the hundreds of thousands of TPS holders in the United States but for the 11 million undocumented immigrants seeking a path to citizenship.
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