Carlos was literally born on the grounds of the James Madison University campus, on what was then Rockingham Memorial Hospital. He is an American citizen, a resident of Harrisonburg, VA, and the eldest of his siblings. Unlike many of his high school peers, his major concern is not whether he’ll be accepted into a college when he graduates next year. His worry is where he will find the support of his family, let alone find home, if his parents are forced to return to two different countries of origin because both are not allowed to renew their Temporary Protected Status in the United States.
A “hot topic” of contemporary politics and national immigration debates, conversations regarding Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, rarely focus on the impact on children when the terms for protected status are not renewed for parents and grandparents. The Center for Migration Studies estimates that there are 350,000 beneficiaries of TPS in the U.S. from 13 countries, including Honduras and El Salvador. Of these, there are 273,000 U.S. born children. Individuals from El Salvador make up the largest group, with roughly 200,000 TPS holders, and an estimated 192,000 U.S. born children. Individuals from Honduras make up nearly 55,000 of the beneficiaries. And while some stories have focused on the trauma experienced by individuals who return to countries that they have never known, few stories focus on the trauma and uncertainty experienced by TPS children who are compelled to stay in the U.S. so that they might continue to pursue their American dream. Carlos recognizes that there is much to his situation that is beyond his control. Still, he says, “I think I’m going to be a great person some day, from this.”