University President Drew G. Faust sent a letter Wednesday to a bipartisan group of lawmakers advocating on behalf of those affected by the Trump administration’s rollback of Temporary Protected Status protections.
TPS is a legal designation given to individuals from certain countries who have fled armed conflict or natural disasters, including El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan. Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush first instituted the program in 1990.
Over the past few months, the Trump administration announced plans to end TPS protections for people from El Salvador, Nepal, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Sudan, leaving hundreds of thousands of individuals’ legal status in limbo.
Faust’s May 16 letter—co-written with Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber—is addressed directly to Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley, House Judiciary Committee chair Bob Goodlatte, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler. The letter asks the lawmakers to “act quickly to advance legislation that provides TPS recipients with continued status to live and work in the U.S.”
“Unless Congress acts, hundreds of thousands of TPS recipients, including many who contribute as employees at our institutions, will soon lose their ability to work legally in the U.S. and will become subject to deportation,” Faust and Eisgruber wrote.
The terminations could have ramifications for a number of Harvard and Princeton affiliates protected under TPS, according to the letter. Dozens of University employees currently have TPS status.
“Several dozen of these individuals work across multiple departments at our universities and are highly valued and productive colleagues,” Faust and Eisgruber wrote. “We should recognize and celebrate the contributions of these individuals, who have made a home in the United States and benefitted our economy and our nation.”
Faust and Eisgruber added that providing protections for these individuals would be the “fair, just, and right thing to do.”
The letter does not mark the first time Faust has raised concerns about TPS terminations. Faust met with lawmakers in Washington in March to discuss legislation meant to prevent lapses in TPS protections, she said in a March interview. Faust added that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator Michael Bennet, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro were “very helpful” in those discussions.
Faust also penned a letter to House and Senate leadership in February emphasizing the contributions of Harvard employees protected under TPS. That letter came a week after 50 TPS-holding workers and their allies rallied outside Massachusetts Hall and delivered a petition calling on Faust to write to lawmakers on their behalf. Affiliates of universities across the Boston area joined Harvard students and workers for another rally in March.
Faust has been an outspoken advocate for undocumented students and immigrants at Harvard and in higher education more broadly. She has recently signed letters, appeared on national television, and met with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to voice her support for immigration reform.
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