For Revere’s Karla Morales-Villalobos and her family, the fate of what they call home – which is the Revere, Everett and East Boston communities – hangs in the balance of a court case taking place right now in California.
And for Karla and her family, the case could send them to El Salvador – a country their parents fled in 2000 but one they don’t know anything about.
“I was born in San Salvador, but I came here when I was 3,” she said. “I have grown up here my whole life. We don’t know El Salvador. This could disrupt our entire lives. We’ve worked hard. We all graduated high school and all are in college about to graduate. To be torn away from what we worked so hard to build would be inhumane to me.”
Morales and her family came legally to the United States in 2001 when she was 3, while her siblings were only 1 and 2 months. They settled in Revere, and her mother was able to start a very successful party supply store in East Boston, called Globas y Fiestas. During this time, she and her siblings attended Mystic Valley Charter School, and then Morales went on to UMass-Boston, where she studies biology as a rising senior.
However, things took a turn last year.
The family has been in the country legally for 18 years, but have had Temporary Protected Status (TPS). For Morales and her family, they got TPS due to a horrific earthquake that devastated El Salvador in the early 2000s and brought several refugees to the U.S. Last year, President Donald Trump’s administration sought to rescind TPS from several groups, including those from El Salvador, Haiti, Sudan, and Nicaragua.
Now, a case known as Ramos vs. Nielson is before the U.S. Circuit Court in Pasadena, CA, challenging the Administration’s ability to rescind TPS from those like Morales’s family.
The case is causing quite a bit of stress for Morales and others in her situation.
“It’s an added stress, obviously, but a heavy stress,” she said. “My future might not be what I think it is. I would be radically different than what I thought and I don’t have any say over it. It makes me feel powerless, and that’s why I’ve joined groups like the TPS Committee to advocate for change. We’re not going to let this administration take away our lives, but it is stressful to know they might have the power to take the lives we know away from us.”
Last week, on Aug. 14, Morales and the TPS Committee held a rally at the Moakley Federal Courthouse in South Boston to draw local attention to the national issue.
Morales points out her parents came here legally and have paid taxes, worked hard and built local businesses. She said they have done everything right, and even though the status is technically ‘temporary,’ she said she feels that should be reconsidered.
“Yes, it was temporary, but the government here was very generous,” she said. “Maybe they didn’t think about where it would end. They’ve been renewing TPS for 18 years…The ultimate goal of the TPS Committee is residency. TPS is not sustainable because it’s temporary. It can be taken away. We are advocating for residency in the long-term, but we need TPS to stay in place while we fight for that.”