November 3, 2017 - Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley Statement on Temporary Protective Status (TPS)

"There are moments in human history when basic humanitarian obligations should override political calculations. Some may argue that those moments are very rare, but the fact is that some crises make clear they exist. The United States, I believe, faces one of those moments and our political leadership should rise to the occasion.

The occasion is the need to extend Temporary Protective Status (TPS) to four groups of people presently in the United States: they are Haitians, Salvadorians, Nicaraguans and Hondurans. TPS is granted to individuals who have had a valid visa to enter and stay in the United States for a period of time. Before the time granted has been reached, events in their countries affecting basic human services have occurred. Principally in these cases natural disasters such as hurricanes, flooding and destruction of infrastructure have made an immediate return home either very dangerous or virtually impossible. All four of these countries are now in a condition like this.

I am calling upon and urging President Trump and his administration to again designate and extend TPS to individuals and their families for all four of these countries. This humanitarian crisis has both national and local implications for Massachusetts. 

Nationally, there are an estimated 325,000 people with TPS. These are parents, workers, homeowners, taxpayers and members of our faith community. The decision deadlines for TPS are looming. People who are covered by TPS are living in a constant state of fear and anxiety, not knowing how they will be able to remain legally in the US if TPS status is terminated. Families are at risk of being torn apart. TPS recipients are parents to over 270,000 US citizen children. Every day in our Catholic Charities offices, our parishes, our schools and our communities, these parents come to us and ask, “what will I do” and “where will my children go if I have to leave, I cannot take them with me, they only know life in the US?”

Massachusetts is home to the third largest Haitian diaspora and among the diaspora are over 4,700 Haitians in TPS, having received that status after the devastating earthquake of 2010. Haiti has not fully recovered from the earthquake and then has suffered more damage from Hurricane Matthew. Haiti is not ready to receive its nationals. The situation is similar for over 5,000 El Salvadorans with TPS who live in our Commonwealth, work, own homes and have raised children as US citizens.

The TPS question is critical and urgent; executive decisions could leave thousands of people from four countries in a desperate situation. There are times when humanitarian obligations – of charity, compassion and care – should take precedence over political calculation. This is one of those moments. I pray that as a nation and a Commonwealth both public opinion and political choices will meet our obligations. "