Migrant mother petitions Obama for Temporary Protected Status

Rebeca never wanted to leave El Salvador. She had a home and a family there. But then gangs killed her mother and husband, threatened her life, and robbed her house leaving her and her daughters without even a bed to sleep on. 

So she prepared to leave. She packed a bag, and got a contraceptive injection, knowing that she was almost guaranteed to be raped along the way. Once she reached the Border, she didn’t have the money to hire a coyote so she risked crossing alone. Somehow, she made it to the U.S. and started working, saving money to hire a coyote and bring her daughters over. Finally last year, they joined her in the Boston.

Rebeca and her family are among thousands of people dealing with horrific violence in Central America’s Northern Triangle (which includes Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala). Last year alone, 17,500 people were killed in a geographic region the size of Oregon state. In fact, El Salvador and Honduras have the highest murder rates in the world outside of war zones, particularly of women and children. With a severely under-resourced government, 95% of the murders in El Salvador are never solved.

Land and human rights activists are often targets of this violence, as we saw in the murder of world-renowned indigenous and environmental activist Berta Cáceres last week. According to a Global Witness Report Honduras is now the most dangerous country to be an environmental activist; as Sarah Blasky points out on Upside Down World, Cáceres’ death was only unusual because of the international coverage it received.

Knowing this, Rebeca’s decision to bring her family to the United States with or without documents seems quite understandable. But in light of the Obama administration’s latest round of deportation raids earlier this year, Rebeca has good reason to fear that they could be deported back to El Salvador, and back to their deaths. Recently-arrived migrants like Rebeca’s daughters are among the most at risk for deportation, as they are unlikely to have legal representation. Many of them are facing removal orders with no support to navigate a system that was not built to help them.

“I am terrorized knowing that after so long apart, I could lose my daughters again.”

Last week, Rebeca started a petition asking President Obama to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to migrants from the Northern Triangle until they can safely return home – which may not be for many more years. Over 40,000 people have signed her petition, increasing the pressure on Obama to protect immigrants who fled horrible violence to come to the U.S.

“All I’m asking is that he consider our request,” Rebeca told me on the phone. In her petition she notes that there are no legal barriers to Obama granting TPS, it is fully within his power as president.

You can ask him to use that power for good. Check out Rebeca’s petition here.

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Bay Area, California

Juliana is a digital storyteller for social change. As a writer at Feministing since 2013, her work has focused on women's movements throughout the Americas for environmental justice, immigrant rights, and reproductive justice. In addition to her writing, Juliana is a Senior Campaigner at Change.org, where she works to close the gap between the powerful and everyone else by supporting people from across the country to launch, escalate and win their campaigns for justice.

Juliana is a Latina feminist writer and campaigner based in the Bay Area.

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