By Stan Bush
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– A bill introduced by Republican Congressman Mike Coffman would protect refugees from devastated counties from being sent back, but would also close the program that protected them.
The program called temporary protected status has allowed more than 436,000 people into the U.S. from uninhabitable areas – most are from El Salvador following a series of violent earthquakes in 2001.
The bill from Coffman, a Republican representing Colorado, would allow those recipients to enter the normal immigration process.
“These people have been here literally for decades. They have children, in some cases grandchildren. They have jobs. Some even have small businesses. They’re part of the fabric of our community,” says Coffman.
The bill would also change how the U.S. responds to international disaster. Instead of allowing displaced residents to live in the U.S., Coffman’s bill calls for the country to provide humanitarian aid in the effected region.
“Saying to these people ‘Come to our country until conditions improve’ is the wrong message because given our standard of living here relative to the standard of living they come from, they’re just not going back home,” says Coffman.
According to numerous media reports, Pres. Donald Trump’s comment about the U.S. taking in people from “s—hole countries” came from a discussion over the TPS program in the Oval Office.
Coffman says the President’s comments are inappropriate, but does not believe Trump’s position will affect the legislation.