The most enlightening media coverage of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Salvadoran immigrants included Salvadoran immigrants
Oscar Chacón: “These people stopped being temporary long, long ago”
Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE
On January 8, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would not renew Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Salvadoran immigrants who have been residing in the country since the 2001 earthquakes in El Salvador, giving 200,000 Salvadorans until September 2019 to leave the country or face deportation. In their coverage of the move, CNN and MSNBC both hosted Salvadoran immigrants familiar with the program to discuss the decision, providing unique and crucial insight that rarely appears on cable news.
In one appearance, Orlando Zapata, a TPS recipient who first arrived in the United States in 1984 after fleeing the violence of El Salvador’s civil war, appeared on CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper and explained that returning to El Salvador would be a dangerous situation for him and his family. Zapata stated that “the situation is worse than when I left El Salvador because now we have the other problems like the gang members that are … forcing kids to join them.” Zapata underscored the danger those being forced to return to El Salvador would face:
On MSNBC Live with Ali Velshi, guest host Chris Jansing interviewed Oscar Chacón, co-founder and executive director of Alianza Americas. Chacón echoed Zapata’s point that the conditions in El Salvador haven’t improved, stating that “it would be, frankly, very fictitious, very much imaginary to say that El Salvador is in great conditions to receive 200,000 of its own nationals,” adding, “ The conditions today are no better than they were back in 2001.” Chacón also rebutted the argument that TPS recipients can apply for legal permanent residence, explaining, “If you are a recipient of temporary protected status, you do not qualify, by virtue of being in that situation, to apply for anything else other than renewing the work permits.” (This is true, and the process of applying for a green card through other means can take several years.) Chacón added that “these people stopped being temporary long, long ago” and highlighted the social and economic contributions Salvadoran immigrants under TPS have made to American communities:
Cable news has a bad habit of excluding immigrants from conversations pertinent to their lives. These interviews further exemplify the fact that including immigrants and immigration experts in relevant discussions adds important context that media pundits simply cannot provide.