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Coalition, Community Leaders, and Advocates Call on United States to Grant Temporary Protected Status for Ecuadorian Immigrants

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Thanu Yakupitiyage,  Main Phone: 212-627-2227 x235,  E-mail: tyaku@nyic.org
New York  (Wednesday, June 1, 2016)

Coalition, Community Leaders, and Advocates Call on United States to Grant Temporary Protected Status for Ecuadorian Immigrants

 Government, Nonprofits, Community Leaders Call Federal Authorities to Designate TPS Status for Ecuadorian Nationals, Allowing Ecuadorian Immigrants to Stay in Country As Country Rebuilds

(New York, NY) Today outside of 26 Federal Plaza today, over one hundred community leaders and legal service providers, including Council Member Daniel Dromm, came together to urge U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to designate Ecuador for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). An echo event was also held by NYIC members in Westchester, NY.

On May 18th of this year the Ecuadorian Government formally requested TPS designation for its nationals present in the United States after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated the country on April 16th, 2016. Since then, 26 aftershocks have rocked Ecuador, hampering, and in many instances, postponing, efforts to rebuild. Since the earthquake, the community has come together to spearhead relief efforts throughout the United States; especially in the wake of the aftershocks. If TPS is granted to Ecuador, Ecuadorian immigrants present in the United States will be able apply for permission to stay in the U.S, work legally, and when necessary, travel to Ecuador as they begin the work to rebuild their country.

[Photo Above] Over one hundred Ecuadorians convene outside of 26 Federal Plaza to call on DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson to grant TPS designation for Ecuador #TPS4Ecuador

“We urge Secretary Jeh Johnson and President Obama's administration to designate TPS for Ecuadorians immediately; without it, this community will not be able to sufficiently support rebuilding efforts in their home country,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “Up to 200,000 New Yorkers are Ecuadorian and 65,000 Ecuadorians could potentially qualify for TPS in New York State. Providing Temporary Protected Status for Ecuadorians is one of the most concrete steps that the United States can take in assisting Ecuador to regroup and rebuild.”

New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst) who represents one of the largest Ecuadorian communities in New York City attended the rally, saying, "I join NYIC in calling on President Obama to extend Temporary Protected Status to Ecuadorians living in the United States. Given the current state of Ecuador in the wake of their catastrophic earthquake, any removal of Ecuadorian immigrants would be inhumane and would undermine recovery efforts. Extending Temporary Protected Status to Ecuadorians in the United States is morally the right thing to do."

Linda Machuca, Consul General of Ecuador in New York joined today’s rally, saying, “On April 16th, Ecuador suffered one of the most horrible tragedies in decades. An earthquake of 7.8 hit the coastal area of our country. Hundreds lost their lives and leaving thousands injured and without a home. The government of Ecuador has requested Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for our nationals living in the United States and we are now waiting on the authorities for an answer. The Consulate of Ecuador in New York will continue informing our community about this process, but we also want to alert our community about scams. As we all know, some people would want to take advantage of the situation.”

[Photo left] Council Member Daniel Dromm stands with New York Ecuadorians in calling for TPS. [Photo right] Linda Machuca, Consul General of Ecuador explains the devastating affect of the earthquake in Ecuador and how TPS will help. 

Affected Ecuadorians joined the rally expressing how TPS will help their families.

Nelly Amaya, an undocumented Ecuadorian living on Long Island, whose family was affected by the earthquake said, “The earthquake on April 16 not only affects people in Ecuador, but also affects people living here in the US. More than 70% of my family lives in El Carmen, ten minutes away from Pedernales where the earthquake was. I have many stories of friends that lost their loved ones and their homes. Besides providing protected status to undocumented, TPS will also help us boost the country’s economy. We are not demanding, we are asking for an act of humanity by the government of the US and President Obama. Our community has been supporting him and we will continue to do it.”

“I would like to ask the government, Secretary Jeh Johnson and President Obama’s administration to approve TPS for Ecuadorians. TPS won't just only benefit the Ecuadorians who live in the US but also will benefit the victims of the earthquake because we can have access to a work permit and we can send remittances to help our compatriots,” said Zaida Verdugo, an undocumented Ecuadorian mother and member of Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement House.

Manuel Idrovo, an undocumented Ecuadorian member of Local 78 LiUNA, who in 2001 helped remove asbestos from the World Trade Center site after 9/11 said, “TPS for our Ecuadorian brothers and sisters right now means coming out of the shadows and helping their families back in Ecuador to recover after the devastating earthquake of April 16. I ask the administration and President Obama to grant us TPS the same way that was done for our Haitian brothers and sisters back in 2010.”

[Photo left] Manuel Idrovo, Ecuadorian member of Local 78; [Photo center] Nelly Amaya, Ecuadorian community member from Long Island; [Photo left] Zaida Verdugo, Ecuadorian member of Jacob Riis Settlement House.

 At an echo event held in Westchester, Ecuadorian community members also convened. Westchester is home to 22,000 Ecuadorians alone.

Hamra Ahmad, executive director, Hudson Valley Justice Center said, “The Hudson Valley Justice Center stands in solidarity with other immigrant service providers in the Hudson Valley region to call upon the U.S. State Department to exercise its discretion in granting Temporary Protected Status to Ecuadorian nationals residing in the United States.  Just as Nicaraguans, Hondurans and Haitians, Ecuadorian nationals would receive protection and stability to remain in the United States while their country recovers from the devastating earthquake in April.  It would be a demonstration of compassion for the Ecuadorian people whose families have lost so much.”

Luis Yumbla, director of communications and community outreach, Hudson Valley Community Coalition, “The Ecuadorian community remains optimistic of being heard and receiving some form of immigration relief. TPS would be one option that would help the community and thereby avoid the danger and risk of deportation. 

[Photo above] Luis Yumbla of Hudson Valley Community Coalition speaks at the echo event on the steps of St. Peters Church in Port Chester. 

New York legal service providers also called for TPS designation for Ecuador.

Vanessa Merton, attorney and faculty supervisor at John Jay Legal Services, Immigration Justice Clinic said, “In the Immigration Justice Clinic of John Jay Legal Services, Inc., we constantly see immigrants who have tried to find honest assistance to understand the incredibly convoluted and difficult immigration law of the United States and instead have been taken advantage of and deceived by lawyers and non-lawyers who pretend to help them.  We oppose and call for law enforcement to act against the scam artists who have lied to Ecuadorian immigrants about the availability of Temporary Protected Status as a way to remain lawfully and work in the United States. We hope that Temporary Protected Status for Ecuador will be approved by the President, but meanwhile we urge all leaders in the Ecuadorian community to make sure that everyone knows that it is NOT available so they will not be exploited.”

“The Pace Community Law Practice understands the significant need for immigration legal services for those in the Ecuadorian Community, especially following the recent devastating earthquake. In light of this destruction the PCLP urges the Department of Homeland Security to designate the affected Ecuadorian Community for TPS. Additionally, it is important for community members to understand what other immigration relief is available to them while we wait for action from the Department of Homeland Security. As such, we would like to offer our services to help in any way possible,” said Karin Anderson, executive director, Pace Community Law Practice.

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The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC)  is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees. The NYIC aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all by promoting immigrants’ full civic participation, fostering their leadership, and providing a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.

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