Reps. Payne, Jr., Serrano, Clarke, and Colleagues Call for Temporary Protected Status for People from Nations Stricken by Ebola

Sep 20, 2016

Washington, D.C.Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ) released the following statement on a letter he and several colleagues sent to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), calling on the agency to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible nationals of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone for eighteen months, from November 21, 2016 through May 21, 2018. Extended TPS will allow these countries to continue their recovery from the Ebola epidemic that has killed 11,000 people since 2014. The lead drafters of the letter also included Congressman José E. Serrano (NY) and Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (NY).

A PDF version of the letter can be found here.

In 2014, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson authorized people from countries that were threatened by the Ebola virus and were already in the United States to apply for TPS to remain here. Reports from public health agencies and government authorities indicate that conditions in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone still remain unsafe, with a lack of proper medical care available for many people and severe economic disruptions.

“As Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone continue to deal with the outbreak of Ebola, they are not yet in a position to receive those foreign nationals currently in the United States,” said Congressman Payne, Jr. “Allowing nationals from Ebola-affected countries to temporarily remain in the United States will not only ease the burdens on West African nations as they recover, it will protect those nationals from the harsh and unsafe conditions that persist in their home countries. Reauthorizing Temporary Protected Status is a humane and necessary measure in addressing the Ebola crisis. I’m proud that my district includes a large West African community, and I will continue to fight to make sure they have the necessary support.”

“The Ebola outbreak remains a threat in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. Immigrants from these countries, including many in my district, need an extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in order to remain safe in the United States, to allow their home nations to rebuild their infrastructure and continue their recovery, and to help family members with financial resources necessary to help prevent the spread of the disease. I join my colleagues in urging Secretary Johnson to extend the TPS designation for these three nations,” said Congressman Serrano.

“As the representative of a community that includes many people from West Africa, I know families who want to remain here until the crisis has been resolved,” said Congresswoman Clarke. “These countries are still working to improve their public health infrastructure to prevent future outbreaks from occurring. Extended TPS will allow nationals of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone who are here to avoid the risk of contracting Ebola as the recovery continues. In addition, these individuals will have the ability to support the recovery with remittances to their families that are critical to providing them with the resources to protect themselves from the Ebola virus. We call on Secretary Johnson to continue this program, and we thank him for his previous efforts to assist the people of West Africa.”

The letter was also signed by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Reps. Karen Bass, James P. McGovern, John Yarmuth, Joseph Crowley, Zoe Lofgren, Raúl M. Grijalva, Chris Van Hollen, David Cicilline, Elijah E. Cummings, Gwen Moore, Nydia Velázquez, Sheila Jackson Lee, Paul Tonko, Barbara Lee, Bobby L. Rush, John Conyers, Jr., Luis Gutiérrez, William Pascrell, Alcee L. Hastings, Maxine Waters, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Carolyn B. Maloney, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Betty McCollum, Donna F. Edwards, Gregory W. Meeks, Charles B. Rangel, Michael M. Honda, Jim McDermott, Steve Israel, Grace Meng, and Keith M. Ellison.

“I join my colleagues in urging the Department of Homeland Security to extend Temporary Protected Status for Ebola-affected countries in Africa,” said Senator Gillibrand. “While our medical, military, and humanitarian aid communities have already done a substantial amount of work containing this devastating illness, many children and families are still living through severe social and economic distress in the aftermath of the outbreak – and the virus itself has still not yet been eradicated. An extended Temporary Protected Status would be an important step as the world continues to help Ebola-affected countries recover.”

“Michigan is home to a diverse community of immigrants, including many from the West African diaspora,” said Congressman Conyers. “So in the wake of the 2014 West African Ebola crisis, I urged the United States to take a vital role in helping Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone respond as the outbreak spread devastation and prompted an international public health emergency. Granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to these countries has been a key component of our response, crucially alleviating the strain on already fragile West African medical systems. Now, only two years later, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea still face daunting challenges as they work to recover and rebuild and need our continued support and commitment to succeed.  In this spirit, I urge Secretary Johnson to approve an 18-month re-authorization of TPS for citizens of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone residing in the United States.”

“We seek to protect the humanity of people who need a safe haven in America as their countries work on creating an infrastructure that can support their safe return,” said Congressman Rush. “This is an issue of compassion.”

“Extending TPS to immigrants from Ebola-impacted parts of Africa is the humane, just and appropriate course of action,” said Congresswoman Velázquez. “Given what that part of the world has recovered from in recent years and the weaknesses in their public health infrastructure these families should receive Temporary Protected Status. It is crises like these that this program was created for.”

“Ebola continues to pose a very serious threat to Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. While progress has been made, the health and safety infrastructure in those areas is still recovering,” said Congressman Crowley. “Extending TPS will give critical reassurance to people from Ebola-affected nations and will help as these countries work to get back on their feet during this difficult time.”

“Residents in Maryland sought and received refuge in our state while the public health infrastructure is being rebuilt in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone,” said Congresswoman Edwards. “We must continue to extend TPS to these individuals, unaffected by the Ebola virus, to avoid an unnecessary humanitarian and public health risk.”