By John Lynds
Of the over forty thousand residents who call East Boston home, over half are from Latin American countries. Of that half a majority hail from El Salvador, and arrived here during their country’s civil war during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Then, another wave arrived to this country and to this neighborhood following a series of devastating earthquakes that rocked El Salvador and killed scores of people in 2001 while others fled the lawless gang violence in their homeland.
Since the Bush Administration over 200,000 Salvadorians have lived in the U.S. as part of the humanitarian program known as Temporary Protected Status. Those Salvadorians have been able to live and work here legally, raise families, start businesses, buy homes, attend schools, pay taxes and, more importantly, become an important part of the fabric of this community.
On Monday, President Donald Trump announced that he is ending Temporary Protected Status for those 200,000 Salvadorians here, and across the U.S.
After the announcement, a furious Rep. Adrian Madaro blasted the Trump administration for its latest reversal in immigration policies that many are calling perhaps the most ‘consequential’.
“The Trump administration’s continued attacks on legal residents living under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is shameful and misguided,” said Madaro. “This announcement regarding TPS holders from El Salvador confirms this administration’s intentions to end humanitarian aid for thousands of our neighbors in East Boston. For many of these folks, East Boston has been home for years. They own small businesses and homes, their children are US citizens, and they are contributing, tax-paying members of our community. This decision will not only tear families apart, it will also disrupt our local economy.”
Madaro pointed to residents like last year’s East Boston High School Valedictorian, Maybelline Perez. Perez was a school leader, the president of the school’s National Honors Society and received a scholarship to Northeastern University. Her parents, Benjamin Pérez and Flora Villatoro, brought Perez and her sibling to the United States in 2010 because they wanted their children to attend school safely without fear of the rampart gang violence.
At her graduation in 2017 Perez told of how gangs tried to extort her family and threatened murder if they didn’t receive money. Perez arrived speaking only a few words of English but rose to be one of the more stellar students to ever walk the halls at East Boston High.
“She is just one example but there are many many more stories of families like Maybelline’s that risked their lives to travel here from El Salvador in search of a better life,” said Madaro. “And many of these individuals have become important community leaders and an important part of what makes East Boston a great neighborhood.”
In the fall of 2017, Madaro led an effort at the State House to pass a joint, bipartisan resolution calling on the Trump administration to end its attack on TPS holders.
‘I am grateful to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for supporting this measure, as well as to Governor Baker, our Congressional delegation, the US Chamber of Commerce, and local editorial boardrooms who have all expressed support for the TPS program,” said Madaro. “Despite Monday’s setback, I am hopeful that, ultimately, we will prevail in our efforts to help those most in need.”
Madaro said the nearly 15,000 men, women, and children in Massachusetts impacted by this decision are not just numbers on a spreadsheet but are our neighbors.
“These are real people with real stories of struggle and sacrifice who need our compassion and support,” he said. “Let us not treat today’s decision as a defeat, but instead as a call to action. We must continue to fight for those who need help and reaffirm our commitment to uplifting all people, particularly those whose lives have been so adversely affected by natural disaster and civil war. East Boston has always been an immigrant community where all are welcome. I stand by my fellow East Bostonians and remind everyone that my office is open to all.”