Lawmakers push Trump to protect foreign nationals after hurricanes

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Donnette Love is an immigration attorney in Florida. She specializes in helping people from the Caribbean region come to the U.S. But said in the past year her job has become increasingly difficult.

“Since the new administration I’ve seen the rates of visa denials go up significantly,” Love said.

Love said the purpose is to deter bad people from getting into the country, but she says it’s keeping good, hard working citizens out of the U.S.

“You have these people that need access to the United States in particular the Bahamas is not a country that manufactures anything," she added.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are noticing the denials too. Particularly following the devastating hurricanes in the Caribbean region.

Over 70 members of Congress wrote a letter to President Trump urging him to grant Temporary Protected Status or TPS to foreign nationals in the United States who are from Hurricane Irma and, now, Hurricane Maria affected areas and extend it for those in war torn areas.

TPS allows immigrants from select countries the right to remain in the US for six to eighteen months at a time when their countries recover from things like famine, civil war and natural disasters.

“We need it to be extended indefinitely because again until these countries settle down, why would you send people back to their death," Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA-37) said.

But other immigration experts say although TPS is meant to be a time limited form of relief, it often extends much longer.

“Our major concern is that overall it appears to have been a bad program from the standpoint of rule of law applied to immigration in the United States," Matthew O’Brien, Director of Research at the Federation for American Immigration Reform said.

O'Brien said immigrants over stay their allotted time or enter the country illegally, then sign up for TPS to stay. For the hurricane affect areas O’Brien said there may some kind of a grant for the region, but says the problem remains the same.

“It tends to be the never ending status," he added.

It remains unclear what further action the Trump administration will take in regards to TPS.

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