How Does Central America Compare to Other TPS Designated Countries?
The United States has designated twenty countries for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) since the policy was created in 1990.
TPS is granted when returning to the country would be too dangerous to justify deportation. This has been done because of violence, natural disasters, and health concerns, ranging from just 19 deaths in Montserrat to over 500,000 deaths in Rwanda.
Even with the exclusion of the relatively small case of the volcanic eruption in Montserrat, the level of danger present in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador easily compares with that of catastrophes in other countries which have been designated for TPS in the past.
Violence in Central America
Guatemala City, Tegucigalpa (Honduras), and San Salvador have the third, fifth, and ninth highest murder rates in the world respectively.
San Pedro Sula, Honduras, has been ranked as the most violent city in the world with 171 homicides per 100,000 residents. To put that in perspective, in 2014 the homicide rate in New York City was 4 per 100,000 and less than one per 100,000 in London. According to the U.S. State Department, from 2005 to 2012 the number of violent deaths of women in Honduras increased by 246%.
Violence in TPS Designated Countries
Bosnia-Herzegovina was designated for TPS from 1995 to 2000 as a result of an ethnic cleansing campaign which killed approximately 8,000 men and boys.
Sierra Leone was designated for TPS from 1997 to 2003 because of a civil war which lasted eleven years and killed approximately 50,000 people in total.
Somalia, Sudan, and Syria have all been designated for TPS as a result of armed conflict as well, with battle deaths extending into the hundreds of thousands.
Considering civilian deaths per year, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador fall well within the range of eligibility for TPS.
Other Catastrophes in TPS Designated Countries
Honduras and Nicaragua were designated for TPS in 1998 when Hurricane Mitch killed an estimated 11,000 people in Central America. Citizens of those two countries who have been in the United States since before the hurricane are still eligible for asylum under TPS.
An earthquake in El Salvador which killed at least 944 people prompted the United States to designate El Salvador for TPS in 2001 and those displaced by the quake are still eligible for asylum.
The Ebola outbreak of 2014 resulted in approximately 11,000 deaths in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. All three of those countries are currently designated for TPS.
Comparison to Central America
The common thread among countries designated for TPS is a presence of danger which local governments are unable to handle on their own. Gangs in Central America rival their respective national governments in power and dominate the populations with uncontrollable violence.
TPS allows foreign nationals to live and work in the United States until their home countries become safe enough for their return. As in the past cases of twenty nations, including Central American countries at times, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are too dangerous for their citizens to safely return home.
Deporting foreign citizens to countries suffering from civil strife and natural disaster usually violates the American conscience. Sending innocent men, women, and children back to their home countries in Central America is effectively a death sentence in some cases and subjects them to rape, extortion, or oppression in others.
As the United States has done in the past, we should stand up as world leader in the fight for freedom and justice. Designating Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador for Temporary Protected Status is the just and correct way to do so given current conditions.