UNITE HERE Calls for Kirstjen Nielsen to Deliver Assurances of Independence

Washington, DC – Today’s breaking news that White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly meddled in the Honduran TPS extension decision of the Department of Homeland Security is a misuse of political power and raises major questions about the integrity of DHS’ decision making process.

“Today’s revelation that the White House attempted to strong arm DHS Acting Secretary Elaine Duke into eliminating Honduran TPS in a backroom deal is beyond inappropriate, and an abuse of political power,” said Maria Elena Durazo, Vice President of UNITE HERE, the hospitality worker’s union that represents thousands of TPS recipients. “The lives of 320,000 TPS recipients are hanging in the balance as status designations are reviewed, and with stakes this high it’s crucial that all decisions related to extension or termination are based purely in facts, not backroom deals. The refusal of Acting Secretary Duke to make an unwise termination of Honduran TPS based on political expediency as opposed to the facts under extensive pressure from John Kelly is commendable. It’s unclear if Kirstjen Nielsen would adequately withstand this same inappropriate influence from the White House on TPS decisions.  Nielsen must convince Congress that she will exhibit full and total independence from John Kelly before her confirmation for DHS can proceed.”

UNITE HERE has run one of the most high-profile TPS campaigns in the immigration community over the past year, and represents thousands of TPS recipients who are employed in the hospitality with the legal worker authorization that the status grants. If TPS is revoked for recipients, over a quarter million workers who have paid taxes and built lives in America for decades in many cases will lose their legal status and become targets for transportation.

Contact: Rachel Gumpert, (908) 752-3929, rgumpert@unitehere.org.

###

UNITE HERE represents 270,000 members working in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries in the U.S. and Canada, including many immigrant, DACA, and TPS members.