Twenty years of temporary immigration protections helped Dolores Margarita de García Chapetón open two bakeries in the Twin Cities. Now a federal appeals court ruling could send her back to El Salvador.
“About 30 people who work here depend on this … so we are hoping that we can find a way to achieve citizenship and keep doing our business, because we have been doing everything possible to build our community, to build our business and a life here,” said Chapetón through an interpreter on Thursday, standing in front of El Guanaco Bakery y Cafe in Bloomington.
She’s one of more than 300,000 holders of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) facing uncertainty after a ruling this week from the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court sided with the Department of Homeland Security in its move to roll back protections that had allowed citizens of some countries facing natural disasters or armed conflict to live and work legally in the United States.
The panel lifted an injunction in a lawsuit brought by immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan and their American-born children against the Trump administration.
Without further action in the case Ramos v. Nielsen, TPS holders from those four countries would lose their legal status starting in 2021. Though TPS designations had been renewed under administrations of both parties for many years, the Trump administration argued that the program was always temporary.
Joining Chapetón for a news conference in front of the bakery, Marco Hernández said the ruling devastates the lives of TPS holders and their loved ones. He’s a U.S. citizen, but his mother and sister have the temporary protections.
“With this ruling, it is possible that [people with TPS] can see a potential deportation back to their countries or are also put back into the shadows as an undocumented immigrant,” said Hernández, environmental justice organizer for COPAL (Communities Organizing Latinx Power and Action), a Latino grassroots organization.
Jackie Batres said she and her family were granted TPS after the deadly earthquake that struck El Salvador in January 2001. Batres now works at Bethel University as an administrative assistant and ministry coordinator.
The program “has been a blessing for me and my family,” she said. “TPS has given me the opportunity to go to school, college, have a driver’s license and have a professional career.”
She said the designation also allowed her to receive American medical treatment when she was diagnosed with a rare cancer. With Monday’s court ruling, she said, they have lost the battle but not the war.
“The TPS community is a hardworking community that has brought so much cultural and economic support to this country,” said Batres. “We have paid taxes, invested in properties, and many of us, like you saw today, have businesses that support families in our local communities.”