In this op-ed, Samuel Contreras explains how the Trump administration’s recent decision to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for tens of thousands of Honduran people living in the United States will impact his family.
On January 8, Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda threatened to separate me from my wife, who is from El Salvador, by ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for thousands of Salvadorans living in the United States. At the start of May, they came after me, by ending TPS for Hondurans. Now, my children live with the fear of being separated from both their mother and father.
I left Honduras when I was just 21 years old due to the lack of opportunities and the devastation that occurred after the country was stuck by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Now, two decades later, I have made the U.S. my home. I met my wife here and we have two beautiful children, ages 10 and 16. Together, we have worked tirelessly to survive and provide for our children.
Five years ago, I used my savings to start my own construction company in Long Island, New York. Recently, the bank approved a $300,000 mortgage based on my good credit. I was so excited for the possibility of being able to buy a house for me and my family — but now, I can’t accept the mortgage because I’m in limbo, having been given a deadline of January 2020 to leave the U.S. and go back to Honduras.
I cannot begin to fathom returning to Honduras. The country has not fully recovered from Hurricane Mitch, and it’s become one of the most violent and unstable countries in the region. My children do not know Honduras, and after living 20 years outside of the place where I was born, neither do I. I do not know what awaits me if I return, but I know that there’s no job or home there.
Honduras is the sixth country for which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has ended TPS, forcing families to be stuck between returning to the country they left years ago and be separated from their children or remain in the U.S. — with their children but without legal status.
The Trump administration is playing games with people’s lives. Our families contribute enormously to this economy: in New York alone, $271.3 million would be lost from state GDP annually without the contribution of Honduran workers who hold TPS.
My family and I are now looking to Congress. I will continue to advocate, and organize with organizations like Make the Road New York, to make sure that we win a permanent solution that keeps me in the U.S. with my family. Congress has the power to end this nightmare for us. And we won’t rest until they act.