On February 12, The Washington Post reported on a rally in the nation’s capital in support of amnesty for recipients of TPS – a status that gives permission to stay temporarily to aliens from countries that have been disrupted by natural disaster or civil unrest. The Post’s story was not apparently run past its fact checker.
The story referred to the TPS beneficiaries as “immigrants,” which they are not.
The fact is: Immigrants are foreigners who have come on an immigrant visa or have been given permanent residence while already in the country. Other foreigners are either nonimmigrants – if they are here legally on a temporary visa – or illegal aliens – if they entered illegally or stayed when they no longer had permission to be here.
The story then added that the “immigrants … came to the United States fleeing war and disaster.”
The fact is: The only foreigners receiving TPS status are those already in the United States at the time of war or disaster. Each TPS designation has a cut-off date that precludes new arrivals coming later from the affected country.
The story quotes one of the rally attendees saying, “I came to this country as an immigrant.”
The fact is: If he came as an immigrant, he would not have needed temporary protection against deportation. He either came as a nonimmigrant with a visa or came illegally.
Even more significant than the misstatement of facts was the omission of the fact that many, if not nearly all, of the TPS beneficiaries were here illegally at the time that they received the benefit of temporary legal status and work permits. Also missing from the article was the context that most of the TPS beneficiaries have been here for more than a decade (nearly two decades for some) and it defies logic that it would not be safe for the protected status to have been ended long ago. Finally, TPS makes little sense for illegal residents because they are unlikely to have any intention of returning to their home country when possible. Ending TPS status simply causes them to revert to illegal status without the right to work or to receive government benefits.
The fact checkers at the Post generally direct their attention to statements by President Trump, but not exclusively. The public would benefit if their energies were spread more evenly and especially to stories written by their colleagues.