THE US MUST HELP GUATEMALANS HELP THEMSELVES sign now


THE US MUST HELP GUATEMALANS HELP THEMSELVES
By Rene Noriega, President Illinois Guatemalan Chamber of Commerce

In the shadow of domestic hurricane disasters from Katrina to Wilma and the earthquake in Pakistan, though undoubtedly deserving of attention, the problems being faced in Guatemala, after the torrential rains of Hurricane Stan on October, 1-5, is yet to be fully realized, both in terms of damage done and international awareness.

At this time, the Untied States can help Guatemala the most not by giving them aide but by giving Guatemalans living in the United States Temporary Protection Status (TPS). This means that the United States would stop the deportation of Guatemalans for a limited amount of time, so that these people could continue to work in the United States and send home money to their families. Of course the status would not apply to anyone who has committed a crime or anyone that is not, at the present time, already living in the Untied States. Financial aide from Guatemalans living in the United States would be the greatest source of financial aide that the country could count on, allowing the Guatemalan communities in the United States to help their families and their country. To take advantage of the designation all Guatemalans presently living in the United States would have to register with the United States government, helping the United States anti-terrorist security efforts in locating a myriad of people that live invisible lives among us. The greatest concentration of Guatemalans is the United States is found in California, Illinois, New York and Florida. This TPS designation was already granted to the countries of Nicaragua and El Salvador after Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

Guatemala, the worst affected country by Hurricane Stan remains engulfed with extensive flooding and mudslides in the highlands and southwestern regions. The majority of the population in these regions are indigenous people who live in extreme poverty. Most of the affected areas are still isolated and people are stranded without food and water. Over 900 landslides have toppled entire villages, killing thousand of people and ripped through the fragile countryside bordering one of Guatemalas most revered and highly populated tourist destinations wiping out entire facets of income. The official death toll is expected to rise, possibly well over 2,000. The final death toll will likely never be known due to the extensive decomposition of bodies in the mud. In a country where families live off the bounty of the land, the destruction of crops will play a major role in the inevitable economic decline put upon an already delicate nation. Although rescue operations and international aide has trickled in, the devastation of this country is going virtually unnoticed. Now more than ever, it is imperative that the Guatemalans living abroad are able to send back money to help feed their families and contribute to the national economy.

Given that the conditions in Guatemala fit the criteria necessary for the United States to include Guatemala in the list of nations protected by TPS, the President of Guatemala, has already requested this help from President Bush, and all the necessary documentation has been provided to Attorney General of the United States.

Now, we must all help by letting the President and members of Congress know that the American people want to help the Guatemalans help themselves and their country granting them the Temporary Protection Status.

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Lloyd ShepardBy:
Technology and the InternetIn:
Petition target:
U.S. Congress, Senate, President

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