WASHINGTON, D.C. – Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom visited the White House this week to ask President George W. Bush to extend “temporary protected status” to undocumented Guatemalan immigrants in the United States.
The two presidents discussed immigration, energy, trade and the war on drugs in their first meeting since Colom took office Jan. 14.
In a statement to the press after the meeting, Bush said he assured Colom that he would consider expanding the TPS program to include Guatemalans.
Sixty percent of the estimated 1.2 million Guatemalans living in the United States are undocumented. Since 2007,Washington has deported more than 30,000 Guatemalans.
The president has the authority to grant TPS to citizens of countries battered by natural disasters or armed conflict. Hondurans, Nicaraguans and Salvadorans currently benefit from TPS. Peru has also asked to be granted that status.
In a statement this weekend, the U.S. ambassador to Guatemala, James Derham, expressed his doubts that the status will be extended to Guatemalans.