Guatemala Awaits US Decision to Grant TPS

Otto Perez Molina, president of Guatemala, said this month that he hopes to receive a positive response from the United States government about granting the Temporal Protection Status (TPS) to Guatemala's citizens that are illegally in the United States.

Recently Foreign Minister for Guatemala, Harold Caballeros, met with Janet Napolitano, United States Secretary of Homeland Security to talk about the possibility of creating such status.

"I hope that at the end of the day, after the meetings, we can have positive news about the TPS," said Perez Molina.

Some experts have said that it is important for the United States to build a strong democratic tie with Guatemala, since the country can be an ally in the war against drug trafficking.

Walter Batres, advisor of CONAMIGUA, an agency that works to assist Guatemalan immigrants in the United States and other countries around the globe, has said: "If the United States wants to build a strong democracy with Guatemala, the TPS is the way to do it now. Not only is Guatemala the entrance of drugs on their way to the United States. Guatemala is also an ally on the war against drugs and now more than ever Guatemalans need the help of the United States."

Guatemala's government has tried unsuccessfully to obtain a TPS from the United States in the past. However, this time around it hopes the outcome is different, as one of the reasons the government is asking for the special status is the effects of the Nov. 7 earthquake that killed 44 people and left $200 million in damages.

According to the website of the United States Homeland Security, a TPS can be granted to a country that has suffered from a natural disaster such as an earthquake or a hurricane.

In the past, the United States has granted a TPS for other citizens of the Central America territory, including Honduras and Nicaragua, due to the devastation resulting from Hurricane Mitch in 1999.

It also granted the TPS for citizens of El Salvador after an earthquake of 2001. The status was given to any Salvadorean citizen who had entered the United States before the earthquake in January 2001.

Citizen of countries under that protected status are able to renew their work permit every year.

Perez Molina has also said that if he doesn't receive a favorable response from the United States he would continue fighting for the cause.

A TPS would allow undocumented Guatemalans in the United States to stay and work legally in the country.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, Guatemalans represent 2.2 percent of the 50.7 million Hispanics in the United States.