Coalition Letter: Hurricane Stan and Central American Temporary Protected Status

January 9, 2006

January 10, 2006

The Honorable George W. Bush

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Bush:

In October 2005, severe floods and mudslides caused by Hurricane Stan devastated parts of Central America and southern Mexico. We write to encourage a generous U.S. response, and urge you to provide additional reconstruction assistance to affected countries and grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Guatemalans and renew TPS for Salvadorans living in the United States.

Guatemala was most severely affected by Hurricane Stan; entire communities were buried by mudslides. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that over 600 people were killed and over 800 remained missing at the end of October. Almost 35,000 houses were damaged or destroyed and approximately 475,000 people were affected by the storm. El Salvador suffered through a volcanic explosion, then was hit by Stan. Seventy-one people died, and more than 72,000 people were evacuated to shelters. There was damage as well in southern Mexico, along the Mexico-Guatemala border.

Three months later, Central Americans face a serious food shortage due to destruction of crops and livelihoods. The United Nations World Food Programme has issued an urgent appeal to donors to help feed an estimated 285,000 victims of Hurricane Stan, facing a severe hunger crisis this winter.

A practical way in which the United States can help Central Americans help themselves is to provide Temporary Protected Status to Guatemalans and renew TPS for Salvadorans living in the United States, who together send an estimated $4.5 billion per year in remittances to their families. Their contributions to the reconstruction of their countries are essential, and we strongly urge you to grant TPS, as soon as possible, in light of the magnitude of the disaster facing the region. While we recognize the political sensitivities involved, this one action could contribute substantially to reconstruction.

In addition, we believe the United States should designate additional reconstruction assistance beyond the development assistance included in the FY06 budget, which maintains aid to Central America at previous year levels. We appreciate that USAID has provided some emergency assistance but believe that a substantial increase is necessary for Guatemala and El Salvador. Given the series of humanitarian crises around the world in the last several months, we are deeply concerned that the response to Hurricane Stan has not been adequate. We are

 

convinced that the United States must make a more generous response to this year’s terrible natural disasters, both in our own country and abroad.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

 

Rajyashri Waghray

Director, Education and Advocacy

Church World Service

Richard Parkins

Director

Episcopal Migration Ministries

Joy Olson

Executive Director

Washington Office on Latin America

J. Daryl Byler

Director
Mennonite Central Committee

U.S. Washington Office

Richard Erstad

Director, Latin American and Caribbean Regional Program

American Friends Service Committee

The Rev. Cally Rogers-Witte
Executive Minister

Wider Church Ministries
United
Church of Christ

Tara Carr-Lemke

Washington, DC Policy Office Director

SHARE Foundation: Building a New El Salvador Today

Adam Isacson

Director of Programs

Center for International Policy

Charlie Clements

President
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

Neil Greenbaum

President & CEO

Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)

Rev. Elenora Giddings Ivory

Director, Washington Office

Presbyterian Church (USA)

James E. Winkler
General Secretary

General Board of Church and Society

United Methodist Church

Raymond C. Offenheiser

President

Oxfam America

Mary Catherine Rabbitt, SL

President

Sisters of Loretto/Loretto Community

Marie Dennis

Director

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Simone Campbell, SSS

National Coordinator

NETWORK, a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Maricela Garcia

President

National Coalition of Guatemalan Organizations (CONGUATE)

Barbara Gerlach

Colombia Liaison

United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries

Rev. Dr. James B. Vigen

Director for International Relations and Human Rights

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Washington Office

 

Seamus P. Finn, OMI

Director

Oblate Justice and Peace/Integrity of Creation Office

Patricia Davis

Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA

Marcia Soto

President

Confederación de Federaciones Mexicanas del Medio Oeste

Claudia Lucero
Vice-President
Durango Unido en Chicago

Mark L. Berenson

Co-Director

Committee for Inter-American Human Rights

John Lindsay-Poland

Director

Fellowship of Reconciliation Task Force on Latin America and the Caribbean

Bob Schwartz
Executive Director
Disarm Education Fund

Mónica C. Larenas

Program Officer

Fund for Nonviolence

Doug Hellinger

Executive Director

The Development GAP

T. Michael McNulty, SJ
Justice and Peace Director

Emily S. Goldman

Senior Program Officer

Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights

Andrew de Sousa
National Organizer

Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala

Richard Kamp

Director

Border Ecology Project

Tanya Snyder

Executive Director
Voices on the Border

Stephen Coats
Executive Director
U.S./Labor Education in the
Americas Project

Rev. David A. Vargas

President

Division of Overseas Ministries Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Elaine Nonneman

Trustee

Channel Foundation

Harold M. Baron

Chairman of the Board

Foundation for Self-Sufficiency in Central America

Todd Flory

Legislative Associate

Brethren Witness/Washington Office

 

 

Conference of Major Superiors of Men
(CMSM)

Cc: Adolfo Franco, Assistant Administrator, Latin America and Caribbean Bureau, USAID

David E. Lindwall, Director, Office of Central American Affairs, U.S. State Department

Robert Divine, Acting Deputy Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,

Department of Homeland Security

To respond to this letter, please reply to Lisa Haugaard, Executive Director, Latin America Working Group.

424 C Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002
lisah@lawg.org Ph: 202-546-7010 F: 202-543-7647