The Wilson Building in downtown Washington is filled with people who define the story of the city the edifice represents: a mayor who is a fifth generation Washingtonian, government staffers who grew up here or moved here for college and never looked back, residents who come to meet their mayor or testify before the council — and a woman who moved to the United States from El Salvador almost 20 years ago for a chance at a better life.
Less than a decade after her country’s civil war ended, Soledad, then a young woman living in a small municipality of El Salvador, made a heart-wrenching decision: to provide for her family, she would leave everyone and everything behind and move to the United States.
In 2001, Soledad became one of about 150,000 U.S.-dwelling Salvadorans to benefit from President Bush’s decision to grant El Salvador Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Because of TPS, Soledad was able to apply for new work, get a driver’s license and buy a car. Today, she proudly works in City Hall.
There are approximately 1,400 Salvadorans living in Washington. They are our neighbors, friends, classmates and coworkers. They live and work here because of TPS, a lawful immigration status granted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to nationals of countries that experience natural disasters, armed conflict or other extraordinary conditions.
In the next four months, DHS, in consultation with the Department of State, will decide whether to extend El Salvador’s TPS designation, which benefits almost 200,000 Salvadorans who have legally lived and worked in the United States for years. Today, as we capital-cities mayors come together, we urge the U.S. government to extend TPS for the Salvadoran community. As mayors, we both want to build safer, stronger cities for our residents. We both believe that spreading prosperity means celebrating the talent and culture of our residents.
Between TPS and the Dream Act, the American government has a tremendous opportunity to remind the world what it means to be an international leader. We hope the government seizes the moment.
MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER
Mayor of Washington, D.C.
NAYIB ARMANDO BUKELE ORTEZ
Mayor of San Salvador
San Salvador, El Salvador
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