Immigrant rights groups demanded Wednesday that President Biden launch an investigation into his administration’s decision-making on granting deportation amnesties, saying predominantly Black and Latino countries are being treated worse than White countries.
More than 150 groups signed a letter to Mr. Biden saying they see “racial bias” in how the government has granted Temporary Protected Status, a humanitarian program that offers deportation amnesties to immigrants already in the U.S. when their home nations face catastrophes.
They contrasted the quick action to grant TPS to Ukraine with countries such as Ethiopia, which they say merits TPS but still hasn’t been granted.
“Notably, we are concerned that the State Department and White House senior advisor are in effect promoting anti-immigrant policies,” the groups said, adding that the administration has “a de facto policy of refusing or delaying designation of TPS for Black- and Brown-majority countries that clearly meet the statutory requirements.”
The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees TPS, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The groups’ letter is the second time in two weeks that the Biden team has drawn criticism for being “anti-immigrant.” The publishers of Immigration Law Weekly suggested Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas be impeached and the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services be fired after an unsatisfactory rollout of a new legal immigration program for foreign investors.
TPS is supposed to be used when a natural disaster, disease, war or political instability has devastated a country so much so that officials believe it is wrong to require people to go back — both for their safety and to give the country a chance to recover without having to care for returnees.
In addition to a stay of deportation, TPS also provides permission to work legally in the U.S., and access to some taxpayer benefits.
The groups that sent the letter this week said the Biden administration is doing more on TPS than the Trump administration, which tried to clamp down on new designations and to bring to an end some designations that have been on the books for decades.
Those efforts were largely halted by courts.
As of February, more than 350,000 people from 12 countries were living in the U.S. under TPS. In March and April the Biden administration added three new countries — Ukraine, Afghanistan and Cameroon — to the list, adding up to 145,000 more people to the rolls.
El Salvador and Honduras are already covered by TPS designations from the turn of the century, with more than 250,000 people living here under protections since then.
But the activists want new designations for those countries and Guatemala, which would add potentially millions more people to the rolls.
In their letter, activists also listed other nations they said should get new designations: Burkina Faso, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Lebanon, Mali, Mauritania, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sierra Leone.