Salvadoran immigrants covered by Temporary Protected Status (TPS) continue to not receive Employment Authorization Documents from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), putting them in a precarious situation. In some cases harming them, preventing them from applying for or remaining in their jobs, or accessing public benefits to which they are entitled.
It is unforgivable that by now USCIS has not corrected the backlog problem, which has thousands of Salvadorans with TPS in immigration limbo.
In early March, USCIS admitted that they were behind in processing TPS re-registration applications and announced that they would send approximately 4,500 provisional Employment Authorization Documents to Salvadorans protected by TPS, but many have not yet received them. And others whose cases have already been approved have yet to receive their permanent permits.
Disgusted by this situation that is affecting so many Salvadoran immigrants, I held a conference of press to denounce USCIS for their lack of transparency, inefficiency, and lack of speed in the way they process TPS applications.
I presented two cases of Salvadorans who have been harmed by these delays. One of them is Mr. Jesus Aparicio, 71 years old, who is currently indigent and suffers from a number of illnesses. Although an immigration judge granted him TPS and USCIS received Mr. Aparicio's re-registration application on September 10, 2010, they have yet to process his case. Despite the delay in processing his application, they have not even sent him a provisional employment authorization, as required. As a result, he is unable to collect the paltry monthly social security payment he was receiving before his document expired. Mr. Aparicio, who came to the United States in 1990, worked for several years in a factory until it was closed. For years he worked, made his social security contributions, and paid his taxes. Now he is homeless, without a family, and has been unable to find work. In addition, without his current work permit, he has fewer possibilities for subsistence.
If it weren't for the generosity of a Samaritan Salvadoran woman who allows him to sleep on her couch, Mr. Aparicio would be on the street. "I just want a little job so I can survive. I have no shoes, no clothes, and barely a place to sleep," Mr. Aparicio told me.
Mr. Aparicio called USCIS in December to inquire about his case and received no response. This month I spoke with a USCIS agent to stress the importance of processing Mr. Aparicio's application due to his medical needs, but was only told that they would review the case.
It is outrageous that such a needy person is not expedited to obtain his benefits.
Another case is that of Ms. Manuela Nuñez de Hernandez. The USCIS approved her case on November 1, 2010, but she has not yet received her permanent Employment Authorization Document. She recently received a provisional permit, but it has an expiration date of June 9, 2011, and she is concerned that this will cause future complications in the new job she just got.
My report was covered by several media outlets. To read the article written by reporter Luis Uribe of the EFE news agency, please click here. here.
Journalist Joyce Álvarez, from the newspaper La Prensa Grafica de El Salvador interviewed Mr. Aparicio and gave an account of the problem. See the article here.
Several television media attended the press conference. Here is the report by reporter Dinorah Perez, from Channel 22 in Los Angeles:
This is the report by Liliana Escalante, for Univision News, Edición Nocturna:
This is the coverage of Univision Channel 34 in Los Angeles: