Harrisonburg man inserts TPS holders into immigration debate in Washington

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - A Harrisonburg man is putting Temporary Protected Status holders in the middle of the immigration debate in Washington. The president of the local Salvadoran Committee made the trip to D.C. to participate in a rally with others from across the U.S., hoping to permanently protect immigrants with TPS.

Kamilo Rivera says everyone deserves a permanent solution in the United States.

TPS is given to immigrants who fled countries unfit to take them back because of disasters or conflicts. The Trump administration ended the program for 200,000 protected Salvadorans. They have until September 2019 to become residents or leave the U-S. Harrisonburg’s Kamilo Rivera is a U.S. citizen, but as president of his local Salvadoran Committee, he’s fighting for those with TPS.

“ Everybody deserves to have a permanent solution in this country,” said Rivera.

Rivera says with lawmakers looking to reform the U.S. immigration system, they can’t forget TPS holders. He says they deserve permanent residency because some have lived and worked in the U.S. for decades.

“They already have their own life. They already buy houses, they have paid taxes, they have their own jobs,” said Rivera.

While Rivera is looking for certainty for protected immigrants, others say Americans need assurances that their borders are secure.

“There’s a lot that the American people need in terms of immigration enforcement and some fundamental changes to our legal immigration system that must happen first,” said RJ Hauman from the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

He says TPS means just that; temporary. He says the U.S. should focus on protecting American citizens first.

“The notion that those people should stay because of the situation in their country right now based on something that happened awhile ago is relatively ridiculous,” said Hauman.

President Trump is calling on Congress to act on reforming the country's immigration system, but so far, there's no agreement.

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