Central America is a region that suffers from frequent natural disasters, including earthquakes, tropical storms and volcanic eruptions. Guatemala has recently suffered from each of these disasters and this nation where over 50 percent of the population lives in poverty is having a difficult time recovering.
In order to help Guatemala recover from these natural disasters, President Barack Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano should move to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to the estimated 1.5-1.7 million Guatemalans living in the United States.
According to Guatemala's central bank, Guatemalans working in the US sent over $4bn in remittances to their families living in Guatemala between January and November, a 9 percent increase over the same period in 2011. The Guatemalan people cannot afford the loss of their second largest source of national revenue (remittances) or the increased costs associated with the return of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of deported Guatemalans from the US.On the one hand, it sure would be nice if, in return for TPS, President Otto Perez Molina promised (1) to tackle corruption, organized crime, and drug trafficking in his government and among his associates, (2) to support the justice system in its pursuit to hold former leaders accountable for massive human rights violations even if he disagrees with the court's rulings, and (3) to support human rights advocates (widely interpreted) involved in defending the rights of the poor, indigenous, and other vulnerable populations.
On the other hand, I hope that the US simply approves TPS because helping a neighbor in need is the right thing to do. There should be no strings attached. Just a little Christmas gift.