Center for American Progress Action

RELEASE: Rep. Garcia, Construction Industry Owner, and Reconstruction Workers on Protecting Dreamers and TPS Recipients, Role in Natural Disaster Recovery Efforts
Press Release

RELEASE: Rep. Garcia, Construction Industry Owner, and Reconstruction Workers on Protecting Dreamers and TPS Recipients, Role in Natural Disaster Recovery Efforts

Washington, D.C. — Today, Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX), House Judiciary Committee member, joined the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s Tom Jawetz; Stan Marek, CEO of MAREK; a recovery-area Temporary Protected Status (TPS) worker, Djhym Joseph; and Dreamer Jesus Contreras to highlight the outsized role that TPS holders in construction occupations—many doing specialized work and in supervisory roles—are playing in rebuilding communities devastated by recent natural disasters. The Center for American Progress also recently released new data here.

A recording of the call is available here.

Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): “Dismantling TPS programs will have dire consequences for our cities and communities, both here in Texas and across the country. These families and workers are not only vital for our recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, but they also comprise an essential part of the community in Southeast Texas. The Trump administration’s efforts to end TPS programs are as economically harmful as they are morally and legally wrong.”

Tom Jawetz, vice president of Immigration Policy, Center for American Progress Action Fund: “The data are clear: In states that have been hit hardest by natural disasters over the past two years, tens of thousands of TPS workers in construction—frequently in specialized occupations and managing job sites—are helping rebuild their communities. These longtime residents of our country are doing the hard work necessary to get families back into their homes and businesses back on their feet.”

Stan Marek, CEO of MAREK: “The labor situation in Texas is critical. With more enforcement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and State Senate Bill 4 (the “show me your papers” law), many Latinos, both legal and undocumented, have left for construction jobs in Colorado and Florida. The Harvey relief work is less than 50 percent complete, and to lose our TPS workers now, coupled with other workers who are leaving, will mean that many in our community will have a long wait to get back into their homes.”

Jesus Contreras, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient and Houston-area paramedic: “As both a DACA recipient and a paramedic, I am one of nearly 800,000 individuals who are building communities across America. You shouldn’t have to be a ‘hero’ immigrant to be deemed worthy of safety and protection. People like me just want to be able to live and contribute to the county we call home.”

Djhym Joseph, Haitian TPS holder and crew foreman, Advanced Roofing: “I am a sheet metal foreman who oversees job sites and helps entry-level workers in our 3-year apprenticeship program learn how to do better-quality work. After Hurricane Irma devastated South and Central Florida, I went to Tampa, Orlando, and Fort Myers to help thousands of people build roofs over their heads. It was gruesome work, but the smiles on their faces gave me more power to continue helping. But I worry about the people that I love, especially my children, because my TPS status can be stripped away and stopped at any time. It’s a scary thought. To those of you on the call who are listening: Please help us, please help our families. All I ask for is permanent status to stay with my children.”

Tomorrow, March 6, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on “Protecting Dreamers and TPS Recipients,” and more than 75 Dreamers, TPS holders, and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients will travel to Washington, D.C., as part of a fly-in to meet with lawmakers and call on Congress to enact permanent protections.

For more information, contact [email protected].