Ending Temporary Protected Status for Hondurans This Time

Women and their children walk on the tarmac after being deported from the U.S., at the Ramon Villeda international airport in San Pedro Sula on July 14, 2014.
Women and their children walk on the tarmac after being deported from the U.S., at the Ramon Villeda international airport in San Pedro Sula on July 14, 2014.
Presidential House/Reuters

New Orleans     When you drive near the river in San Pedro Sula, Honduras and look down along the banks, you can still see signs of the hurricane that swept through the city and the country making tens of thousands homeless almost twenty years ago in 1999.  In my first trips to the city as we organized ACORN there, I could still see signs of current encampments of squatters.  Many things in San Pedro Sula, the industrial and maquila heart of Honduras, have changed in recent decades but the footprint of the hurricane’s devastation is still easy to follow there.

It is also easy to follow in the United States.  New Orleans was the city that became destination and then home to more Hondurans than any other in the United States.  I can often share stories with local business people and construction workers in my neighborhood as we tell stories of Jesus Maria, Choloma, and other working-class suburbs outside of San Pedro Sula or places near Tegucigalpa where ACORN also has numerous chapters and thousands of members.  An intern working with us during the spring semester from Tulane shared the fact that her father was from San Pedro Sula.

There have been many changes in Honduras in recent years.  Looking past the golipista coup of recent years in the recent election ACORN supported candidates and some of our members were elected as mayors or council members in San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa as well as several of the suburbs of San Pedro Sula.  We have won potable water in some places.  We have gotten agreements to build community centers and pave roads.  This is real progress.  At the same time our largest campaign, especially in San Pedro Sula, we euphemistically refer to as “security,” but what we really mean is dealing with the violence, crime, gangs, and fear in many of neighborhoods.  Particularly difficult is dealing with the collateral damage of families broken apart and sending children to the border at the cost of $4 to 5000 US dollars, and then sometimes have to raise additional money when they are turned back and sent home.

The Trump administration has already ended temporary protected status or TPS as it is called for more than 300,000 people legally in the United States because of disasters, war, and other issues.  TPS has been terminated for Salvadorans, Haitians, Nepalese, and Nicaraguans already.  Now more than 80,000 Hondurans have heard that TPS is ending for them as well.  According to the Times the Center for Migration Studies says that Honduras with TPS “have 53,500 American-born children; 85% participate in the labor force, compared with 63% of the overall US population, and nearly 20% have mortgages.”  This doesn’t count the number of families in Honduras who depend on remittances from their US relatives to provide income stability.  They have until January 2020, the usual 18 months that others were given to get their affairs together and return to Honduras.

As I think about this I am preparing for a call with ACORN’s Honduran organizers to plan for the impact of families returning and in-country, but even while doing so, I have to wonder at a policy that is guaranteed no matter what the administration claims to create a whole new class of less than legal immigrants in the United States, who have been legal in the country and embedded in their communities and will now find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place somewhere between home and underground.

This won’t end well.


Facebook Escapes Responsibility

New Orleans    The reviews are in on Mark Zuckerberg’s trip to Washington to visit with Congress. Amazingly, he seems to have emerged largely unscathed from two days of hearings.  All reports indicate that the political class was befuddled and confused, didn’t really understand social media or grasp the full range of the business model, and let Zuckerberg skate on question after question with responses that he would have his “team” look into it and get back to them.

Is this the way a Congressional grilling works?  Is this accountability from Facebook?  An apology and another, “we’ll try harder” is about all that emerges clearly here.   That’s a bag of potato chips for dinner kind of response.  Very unfulfilling!

Not that I’m quitting.  It’s too vital for our communication.  Just minutes ago, I got a message needing urgent advice on a tenant problem in Virginia.  We use Facebook as an organizing tool many places.  We’ve opened up whole countries for ACORN organizing based on a first reach out via a message sent over the internet transom that Facebook facilitates.

Furthermore, reading how difficult it is to quit, it is also pretty clear that they have pretty much all of my information and everyone else’s as well.  I got the Facebook message that one of my almost 3000 friends had opened some random app that made me one of the 80 odd million folks that Cambridge Analytics had sucked up through their scam.  The message wasn’t a remedy and didn’t offer a fix.  Just a note that I’m one of the millions, so it’s too late for me.

But, why is this so hard to fix?  I’ve never opened an app on Facebook and never clicked on an ad.  How hard could it be to require that Facebook ask for permission to use my data?  How hard could it be for Facebook and its algorithms to block random apps from getting my stuff?  This isn’t complicated.  Why when Facebook turns its other cheek are we getting the cold shoulder?

Not that Facebook is any better than Google or any of the others.  The business model is based on ads and pimping me out along with everyone else I know to advertisers.  For the life of me I can’t understand why Congress finds that confusing.

I want a team.  I want our team in Congress to get back to Facebook and tell them to wipe the smirk off of their faces and toe the line for real not with more than vapid apologies.

How hard is it for Congress to pay attention, do its homework, and do right?  And, if it’s too hard for them to regulate Facebook and its friends, then how hard is it for us to find some new folks to go to Washington to figure it out?  The answer is simple:  it’s not that hard really.