Root Causes of Migration
1. The Administration has the power to grant TPS on the basis of: “ongoing armed conflict,” “environmental disaster and, temporarily, inability to accept returns, and/or extraordinary and temporary conditions.” The United States bears a lot of responsibility for creating these conditions in the first place and the fact that they continue.
a. The United States has a long and sordid history of supporting governments that repress popular democratic movements and commit human rights atrocities, leaving a legacy of trauma and structural violence. The US is also well-known to support governments that impose economic regimes that cause skyrocketing inequality and poverty for working people.
i. In El Salvador, the US funded the Salvadoran government to the tune of a million dollars a day at the high point of the civil war that lasted from 1980-1992. US-trained military and death squads killed over 70,000 civilians and disappeared countless more.
ii. In Haiti, the United States provided money, weapons and troops to sustain the Duvalier regimes in Haiti from the 1960s through the 1980s, even after human rights abuses were well known, aided in the coup against democratic president Aristide in 2004 and has heavily funded sham elections since then to ensure that pro-corporate presidents would remain in power.
iii. In Honduras today, following the US supported coup in 2009, over 100 environmental, human rights and LGBTQ activists have been murdered, many by state actors and/or assassins hired by corporations that receive US and international financial support.
b. US “development” policy is also to blame for lack of economic opportunities and decent work. In the 1990s and 2000s, the US government and institutions it controls like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank pushed an aggressive neoliberal agenda of defunding state services and privatizing public resources; deregulation; promoting foreign investment and an economic model to extract natural resources and high profits at the expense of self-sufficiency, workers’ rights and the environment.
c. We know that natural disasters are not natural; Hurricane Katrina being an example of this that opened many people’s eyes to this here in the US. Recall that no one died in Cuba during Katrina while over 1800 people died in the US. This has everything to do with political and economic decisions. Not surprisingly, the US has been heavily involved in creating the political and economic dynamics that have made earthquakes and hurricanes so particularly devastating and then led to TPS being granted.
i. In El Salvador, for example, the US has long supported the conservative Republican Nationalist Alliance (ARENA) party against the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). It was an ARENA president, Francisco Flores, who was in office when Hurricane Mitch devastated El Salvador. In recent years, it was revealed that Flores had stolen at least $15 million in international recovery funds, much of which made it into ARENA’s campaign fund. So the fact that people whose homes were destroyed never saw them rebuilt is a result of political and economic decisions; at that time, El Salvador did not even have a civil defense agency to plan for big storms. When the leftist FMLN came to power in 2009, a lot more has been invested in disaster preparedness and, in fact, the government has finally helped rebuild some of those homes. We are waiting to see if the current president, Trump ally Nayib Bukele, continues investing in disaster preparedness and reconstruction.
ii. There are strong parallels in Haiti. In the mid-1990s, the World Bank has set as a prerequisite for economic structural adjustment programs –the privatization of state-run industries and reduction of government posts and expenditures. Years later, these decisions contributed to the response to the 2010 earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000 people.
d. Violence is another reality that has contributed to TPS designations and renewals. But we know that this too is a result of political and economic decisions, not somehow inherent to peoples of Central America, of Africa or elsewhere in the global south.
i. In El Salvador and throughout Mesoamerica, violence has skyrocketed as a result of:
1. US funded “Wars on Drugs” and “Wars on Gangs”
2. US police and military training that derives from the same repressive and dehumanizing logic of the 1980s
3. Massive arms sales, both legal and illegal
4. Continued support for repressive regimes.
2. All immigrants, not just TPS holders, deserve the opportunity to apply for permanent residency and citizenship and to reunite with family members from whom they have been separated for, in many cases, decades.
a. TPS has been a determining factor in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. The reality is that many if not most other undocumented immigrants come to the US for similar reasons and would face the same conditions if they were forced to return, not to mention the pain of being separated from their families here. But most undocumented immigrants in the US aren’t eligible for TPS because it has such a narrow scope. But if we believe that TPS holders deserve a pathway to citizenship, then we should fight and organize for all immigrants to have the same.
3. The decisions regarding TPS renewal is being used as a political weapon in El Salvador, which is all the more reason we should organize to renew TPS and make visible our solidarity.
a. As soon as news broke that the Trump Administration was not planning to renew TPS for Haiti, calling into question renewals for El Salvador and everywhere else, the right-wing ARENA party shamelessly seized the opportunity to seek electoral advantage in El Salvador’s upcoming elections. Party leaders went to the media with shameless lies that the Trump Administration’s threats towards TPS for El Salvador were retaliation against the leftist FMLN government for their support of Venezuela at the Organization of American States. Of course it’s clear here in the US that the threats to TPS are part of the Administration’s racist, inhumane, no-holds-barred war on all migrants. So even though the disinformation campaign holds no truth, it is still being parroted by the media in El Salvador in an attempt to intimidate voters.
b. ARENA’s claims came after decades of US elected officials making the unfounded claim that they would discontinue TPS for El Salvador and bar Salvadorans from sending remittances to their families if the FMLN were to win the elections. The intention was always to intimidate, never to change the actual policies. Now, when TPS is under threat for reasons that have nothing to do with El Salvador’s internal politics, the US has set the stage for TPS to be used as a political weapon in El Salvador.