Locals fear changes to TPS program will tear families apart

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) - Some families around the Las Vegas valley are concerned about how changes to the TPS program, which gives many Central Americans the right to live and work here, would tear families apart.

TPS, or Temporary Protected Status, offers protection to immigrants from countries that have faced conflict or natural disasters that would make it dangerous for them to return to their home countries.

Over the years, the program has been renewed for countries like Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti, and El Salvador - but now, the federal government has announced it won't renew the program for Nicaragua, and other countries are up in the air.

Juan Padilla works at the Mirage, and moved to the U.S. in the 1980's to escape war-torn El Salvador.  He later became a citizen, but his daughter-in-law, Reina, the mother of his two American-born grandkids is not.

Reina works at a water filtration company in Las Vegas and is under TPS protection.  She worries if the program goes away she would face a difficult decision - having to leave her children in Las Vegas or bring them back to a country they say is dangerous.

Padilla says bringing the kids to El Salvador would be deadly.  They grew up in Las Vegas and are great students, but there, Padilla says, they could easily be recruited by dangerous gangs and be murdered if they refuse to join.

Padilla says violence, corruption, and gangs are even worse there today than they were when he moved to the United States.

They're urging the government to continue to the program.  Estimates from the Center for American Progress show around 5,700 Salvadoran TPS immigrants live in Nevada, and there are 3,800 U.S.-born kids in Nevada with parents under TPS.

Most of those TPS workers have been here an average of 24 years, and are key parts of the economy - especially in hospitality and food service in Las Vegas, and pay taxes.

The government has until January 2018 to make a decision on renewing El Salvador's TPS protections.

 

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