Immigrants in Shifting Times on Long Island, NY: The Stakes of Losing Temporary Status
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Griffith, Kati L.; Gleeson, Shannon; Vázquez, Vivian
In July 2017, President Trump held a rally on Long Island, New York and—amidst sweeping national efforts to curb immigration flows to the United States and to limit the rights of those already here—he invoked notions of Long Island’s “liberation” from the influx of immi-grants. Then, following a string of other restrictionist moves, and through a series of announcements from September 2017 to January 2018, President Trump announced the termination of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program—a long-standing humanitarian immigration program. The termination of TPS meant that the documented status and work authorization of thousands of Central American migrants—on Long Island and across the United States—could suddenly shift to undocumented status. Currently, the termination of TPS is on hold due to court injunctions; however, its future is unsettled. This Article assesses forty-two in-depth interviews with Long Island-based TPS holders who may soon become undocumented and identifies what these TPS holders will lose if TPS is terminated. This Article argues that TPS itself is an unstable and precarious status and poses significant challenges to beneficiaries. However, Long Island TPS migrants’ retrospectives about their previous undocumented lives suggest that their wages and working conditions would suffer were they to lose the legal presence and work authorization that TPS provides. Cutting the TPS program would also have destabilizing effects on other domains such as family life and TPS migrants’ sense of community safety.
immigration; Temporary Protected Status; TPS; Long Island
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