By Ben Slattery
Around 60 people gathered on the historic Morristown Green on Saturday in a show of solidarity for immigrants from Honduras, Nepal, Haiti and El Salvador who are facing the loss of their Temporary Protected Status.
Morristown’s Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center organized the rally on the Green as a response to the Trump administration rescinding Temporary Protected Status for Hondurans, who have been allowed to live and work in the United States for nearly two decades.
Brian Lozano of Wind of the Spirit led a march around the Green that ended in front of Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s (R-11th Dist.) office on Schuyler Place.
Lozano led chants in Spanish, translating to “united the people will never be defeated.”
Activists carried signs stating “no human being is illegal” and “we are not temporary.”
The United States has offered Temporary Protected Status to people who are unable to return safely to their home countries because of ongoing armed conflict or environmental disasters. The program provides immigrants already in the United States with temporary legal status and work permits, regardless of whether they entered legally.
But tens of thousands of Hondurans must depart by January 2020. On Friday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security decided the situation in Honduras has improved enough for its expatriates to return.
According to Wind of the Spirit, expelling these immigrants to their native countries will splinter families, disrupt local economies and endanger many TPS recipients.
TPS holders shared their fears as they congregated outside Frelinghuysen’s office.
Jessika Giron said she is frightened by the possibility of having to return to Honduras, where she was kidnapped while taking a taxi in Comayagua.
“The situation in Honduras is very bad, the violence is very dramatic,” she said. “They took me at [gunpoint] and all the money and things we took for vacation was taken. I thought that was the end of my life.”
Pastora Vasquez expressed similar sentiments on the harsh reality of life in Honduras.
“It pains me to talk about the situation in Honduras, that is where I am from,” she said. “The politics there are beneath us, if they want to separate us they will not, my daughter will remain here, she is a U.S. citizen.”
Vasquez emigrated to the U.S. in 1998 after Hurricane Mitch, and has created a life here for her daughter and herself. If Vazquez is forced to return to Honduras, she fears that her daughter, an 8th grade honor student, may have to drop out and work to survive without her mother’s support.
Ben Slattery is a senior at Drew University.