WASHINGTON – A Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic staff report released Thursday and commissioned by U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the Committee’s ranking member, details how the Trump Administration intentionally ignored warnings about risks to U.S. national security and the safety of nearly 400,000 Salvadoran, Honduran, and Haitian TPS recipients. Senior diplomats at all levels of the State Department and the U.S. Embassies in the three countries repeatedly warned Trump Administration officials that ending TPS for the three countries would undermine U.S. foreign policy objectives, jeopardize counternarcotics cooperation, strengthen criminal gangs, such as MS-13, and prompt a new wave of irregular migration to the United States.
“Today’s report documents something we have become all too familiar with: the Trump Administration has repeatedly sought to use foreign policy not to further U.S. interests but the President’s political aims,” said Menendez. “The recklessness and depravity of their anti-immigrant agenda knows no limits. In its frenzied rush to strip nearly 400,000 people of humanitarian protections, the Administration was willing to play political games with our national security and the safety of TPS recipients and their American children.”
The report, titled “Playing Politics with Humanitarian Protections,” includes a compilation of over 80 pages of internal communications – troubling letters, memos, and embassy cables – that led President Trump to terminate the TPS designations for El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti. Included in the documents are specific instances of Trump Administration political appointees in the State Department explicitly referencing the 2020 presidential elections in their recommendations to the Secretary of State.
At a Congressional briefing to unveil the report findings, Menendez was joined by two New Jersey residents, Juana Villanueva, a TPS holder who has lived in the United States since 1998, and her 19-year-old daughter Liane Taracena, a U.S. citizen and current student at the College of New Jersey. More about Juana and Liana HERE.
“Juana and Liane are the kind of success stories made possible by TPS. Their success is a testament to what makes America great and is exactly why the politicization of their family’s future is so appalling,” added Menendez, before being joined by a panel of immigrant rights advocates. Former senior government officials also joined to discuss the report’s explosive findings.
The SFRC Democratic investigation also documents how senior State Department officials warned the Trump Administration that TPS recipients’ American citizen children would be vulnerable to criminal violence and recruitment by MS-13 and similar gangs if they accompanied their parents to El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti. The report finds that many TPS recipients would feel forced to leave their American children in the United States rather than have them face such risks, thereby leading to a new wave of de facto forced family separation. TPS recipients from these three countries have an estimated 273,000 American children.
“This report creates an irrefutable historical record of how the Trump Administration ignored countless warnings from our career diplomats about the risks of ending TPS in its unceasing efforts to advance its anti-immigration agenda. It’s time for Congress to reject this racism and xenophobia and find a lasting solution for TPS recipients,” concluded Menendez.
Menendez followed the report’s publications with a letter to the State Department’s Inspector General, Steve Linick, requesting he immediately open an investigation to determine the extent to which electoral calculations played a role in the Department’s TPS decisions, as well as any coordination between political appointees and White House officials including senior policy adviser Stephen Miller.
The report includes the following key findings:
The full report and summary documents can be found at the following links: