Poorly managed TPS, benefit not granted

Michael Taylor

Global Courant

The Government highlights macroeconomic growth and stability on billboards, which have one of its undeniable pillars in the billions of dollars sent by Guatemalan migrants in the United States, through remittances to their families. And just as this factor is ignored, attention to this sector of Guatemalans continues to be timid and inefficient. Little has improved the effectiveness in the provision of personal identification documents and there is almost no legal support for compatriots.

The most recent sign of this apathy, or perhaps fear, is the total defenselessness in which national immigrants find themselves in Florida. An estimated 145,000 Guatemalans live there, many of them indigenous and undocumented, who now face possible prison terms and fines if they remain in that state. The SB1718 anti-immigrant law has clear racist overtones. Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard recently visited his compatriots in communities on the peninsula and offered actions, dialogue, and legal advice. However, to date there is no position taken by the national Executive, much less by the indolent Congress. Perhaps they care little or fear the far-right Republicans with whom certain groups maintain alliances, even though these measures affect Guatemalans who contribute to the country’s economy.

However, there is another consequence closer in time to the aversion of this government to address the Joe Biden administration assertively: the announcement of the continuation of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS, for its acronym in English) that is granted to migrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and other countries, among which Guatemala is not included.

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It should be remembered that in 1998 then-President Álvaro Arzú declined to request said benefit for his own reasons, despite the fact that it could have been granted due to the impact of Hurricane Mitch in Central America, which would have included hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans who were already in USA looking for opportunities. History is the best judge of the result of such a refusal. Honduras and Nicaragua, on the other hand, have enjoyed TPS for 25 years.

In June 2022, a golden opportunity arose at the Summit of the Americas for Alejandro Giammattei to formally and personally request a TPS in favor of millions of Guatemalans, but he wasted the opportunity because he did not attend the invitation issued by Biden. He argued alleged agenda reasons, but with this it was possible to appreciate the secondary nature of the migrant issue. Foreign Minister Mario Búcaro was appointed by the president to represent Guatemala and he delegated the task of formulating the TPS request. With all due respect, it can be said that it was not the same level of representation and, therefore, nothing was achieved.

TPS beneficiaries have better opportunities to receive employment permits and stay in the US If 20 percent of the Guatemalan economy depends on remittances of dollars made by these Guatemalans, why not fully protect them? The lesson is clear for the next authorities of the Executive and Congress: they must include the community of Guatemalan migrants within their vision of the State, in order to defend them with energy and total respect for the country that welcomes them, within a framework of coherence and dignity.

Poorly managed TPS, benefit not granted

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