November 07, 2019

Senator Menendez Releases Report Detailing How the Trump Administration Knowingly Endangered TPS Recipients and Their Families for Political Gains

Senator Publishes Dozens of Internal State Department Documents Revealing Trump Administration Officials Injected 2020 Electoral Considerations into TPS Decisions for El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti As Top Foreign Relations Committee Democrat, Menendez Called on State Dept. Inspector General to Investigate the Bastardization of the TPS Determinations by Senior Political Appointees at the State Department, as well as Stephen Miller’s Role in the Politicization

WASHINGTON – A Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic staff report released Thursday and commissioned by U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the Committee’s ranking member, details how the Trump Administration intentionally ignored warnings about risks to U.S. national security and the safety of nearly 400,000 Salvadoran, Honduran, and Haitian TPS recipients. Senior diplomats at all levels of the State Department and the U.S. Embassies in the three countries repeatedly warned Trump Administration officials that ending TPS for the three countries would undermine U.S. foreign policy objectives, jeopardize counternarcotics cooperation, strengthen criminal gangs, such as MS-13, and prompt a new wave of irregular migration to the United States.

“Today’s report documents something we have become all too familiar with: the Trump Administration has repeatedly sought to use foreign policy not to further U.S. interests but the President’s political aims,” said Menendez.  “The recklessness and depravity of their anti-immigrant agenda knows no limits. In its frenzied rush to strip nearly 400,000 people of humanitarian protections, the Administration was willing to play political games with our national security and the safety of TPS recipients and their American children.

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The report, titledPlaying Politics with Humanitarian Protections, includes a compilation of over 80 pages of internal communications – troubling letters, memos, and embassy cables – that led President Trump to terminate the TPS designations for El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti. Included in the documents are specific instances of Trump Administration political appointees in the State Department explicitly referencing the 2020 presidential elections in their recommendations to the Secretary of State.

At a Congressional briefing to unveil the report findings, Menendez was joined by two New Jersey residents, Juana Villanueva, a TPS holder who has lived in the United States since 1998, and her 19-year-old daughter Liane Taracena, a U.S. citizen and current student at the College of New Jersey. More about Juana and Liana HERE.

“Juana and Liane are the kind of success stories made possible by TPS. Their success is a testament to what makes America great and is exactly why the politicization of their family’s future is so appalling,” added Menendez, before being joined by a panel of immigrant rights advocates.  Former senior government officials also joined to discuss the report’s explosive findings.

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TPS Event

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The SFRC Democratic investigation also documents how senior State Department officials warned the Trump Administration that TPS recipients’ American citizen children would be vulnerable to criminal violence and recruitment by MS-13 and similar gangs if they accompanied their parents to El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti. The report finds that many TPS recipients would feel forced to leave their American children in the United States rather than have them face such risks, thereby leading to a new wave of de facto forced family separation. TPS recipients from these three countries have an estimated 273,000 American children.

“This report creates an irrefutable historical record of how the Trump Administration ignored countless warnings from our career diplomats about the risks of ending TPS in its unceasing efforts to advance its anti-immigration agenda. It’s time for Congress to reject this racism and xenophobia and find a lasting solution for TPS recipients,” concluded Menendez.

Menendez followed the report’s publications with a letter to the State Department’s Inspector General, Steve Linick, requesting he immediately open an investigation to determine the extent to which electoral calculations played a role in the Department’s TPS decisions, as well as any coordination between political appointees and White House officials including senior policy adviser Stephen Miller.

The report includes the following key findings:

  • 2020 election considerations were injected into the decision to end TPS for El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti;
  • The Trump Administration announced the termination of TPS for the three countries after intentionally ignoring risks to U.S. national security priorities;
  • When recommending the termination of TPS, Trump Administration officials were aware that TPS recipients—and any of their accompanying American children—would face crime and violence if repatriated to El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti;
  • Ending TPS for the three countries would lead to an unprecedented wave of de facto forced separation of American families as TPS recipient parents would feel obligated to leave their American citizen children in the United States; and
  • In ending TPS for the three countries, the Trump Administration knowingly made a decision that could accelerate irregular migration to the United States.

The full report and summary documents can be found at the following links:

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