RELEASE: More Than 130,000 TPS Holders Are Serving as Essential Workers During the Coronavirus Crisis

Washington, D.C. — The average Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holder from El Salvador, Haiti, and Honduras has lived in the United States for 22 years. Now, an estimated 131,300 of these individuals—like so many other Americans—are providing essential services in the fight against COVID-19, according to a new column released today by the Center for American Progress.

Even as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is working to end their ability to live and work lawfully in this country, TPS holders are on the frontlines in the fight against the novel coronavirus, serving as what DHS guidance describes as “essential critical infrastructure workers.” Whether they are working in health care, the food industry, or manufacturing and waste management services, these individuals are helping to keep the country safe.

Key findings of the column include:

  • An estimated 11,600 health care workers today are TPS holders, including:
    • 8,100 home health and personal care aides, nursing assistants, orderlies, and psychiatric aides
    • 1,900 health technologists and technicians
    • 1,300 other health care support occupations
  • States with the most TPS holders are also home to the largest numbers of TPS holders in health care occupations: For example, there are 2,900 in Florida, 2,700 in California, and 2,100 in New York.
  • 76,100 TPS holders are working in food-related occupations, from grocery stores and restaurants to farms and food processing plants. Among these individuals:
    • 3,900 work in farming and agriculture.
    • 11,700 work in food manufacturing.
    • 11,600 work in food warehousing, transportation, and delivery.
    • 28,800 work in restaurants or food service establishments.
  • 6,900 TPS holders work in transportation and warehousing services, and another 4,100 work in automotive repair and maintenance.
  • 12,700 TPS holders work in manufacturing plants, and another 3,300 work in administrative and waste management services.

“Like so many Americans, immigrants with TPS are an important part of the workforce keeping the country running amid the coronavirus pandemic,” says Nicole Prchal Svajlenka, associate director for research on the Immigration team at CAP and co-author of the column. “The numbers show their crucial impact on our society, especially in states with large numbers of COVID-19 cases—and how they are contributing despite the fact that they live in uncertainty.”

“A once-in-a-lifetime public health crisis such as this provides an opportunity for individuals—and the country as a whole—to reflect,” says Tom Jawetz, vice president of Immigration Policy at CAP and co-author of the column. “TPS holders have long been integral members of our communities, and like all Americans right now, they are experiencing fear, pain, and anxiety. But still, more than 130,000 TPS holders are going to work to perform functions that are essential to keeping our country going. As federal courts around the country consider whether to allow the Trump administration to terminate protections for TPS holders, Congress and the administration should relieve some of this uncertainty and automatically extend these protections into the years ahead.”

Read the column: “A Demographic Profile of TPS Holders Providing Essential Services During the Coronavirus Crisis” by Nicole Prchal Svajlenka and Tom Jawetz

Related sources:

To find the latest CAP resources on the coronavirus, please visit our coronavirus resource page.

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