Ecuador’s request to the U.S. to provide Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to the nearly-200,000 undocumented Ecuadorians in this country is much welcome. The strong earthquake that shook the South American nation a month ago fully justifies such an action on the part of President Obama.
As if that were not enough, Ecuador suffered another 6.8 quake yesterday. The damage caused by the latest tremor remains to be determined, but it will surely add to the terrible destruction caused by the first one, which left 600 dead, thousands injured and at least 30,000 homeless. It is clear that the situation is precarious, not for lack of international help or inefficient management on the part of Correa’s government, but because the untamable force of nature has not given Ecuadorians any respite.
The TPS program was created within the Immigration Act of 1990 precisely to allow foreigners coming from countries affected by natural disasters and other emergencies to obtain working permits and have peace of mind while in U.S. soil.
If the U.S. wants to help Ecuador at this trying time, granting TPS to Ecuadorians is the right way to do it. The status will give them a chance to work and send remittances to their loved ones, which, in significant quantities, would help the South American country’s economy. At the same time, it will free Ecuador from having to deal with deportees who would return without a job and become a distraction to a government that has its hands full with the reconstruction effort.
This is the guideline principle that was applied when the U.S. granted the TPS to people from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Haiti and other countries that have met the requirements. Ecuador should be added to the list.
Rafael Correa’s government took a whole month to make the decision to apply for TPS. The signals sent by some of the country’s diplomats showed an apparent disinterest, while the Ecuadorian community in the U.S. was clamoring for the status. Fortunately, political considerations were pushed aside to favor actions that are beneficial to Ecuadorians both back home and in the U.S.