(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) has invited two of his constituents as guests to tomorrow night’s State of the Union Address: National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) President Tony Reardon and Nelsy Umanzor, a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipient who has lived in the United States since 2000, when he fled El Salvador.
A resident of Maryland’s 8th District in Carroll County, Mr. Reardon is the President of NTEU, a union that represents 150,000 federal workers across 32 departments and agencies. He leads NTEU’s efforts to achieve fairness and respect for all federal workers, including fair pay and a secure retirement. Maryland’s 8th District is home to more than 88,000 federal employees and retirees. Despite reports that the Trump administration is considering wage and benefit freezes for federal workers, Raskin hopes to find consensus among his colleagues that civil servants should not be treated as a political scapegoat.
“Enough with the endless attacks on civil servants. The federal workforce should be thanked for its honorable service, not treated like a piggy bank to finance tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans,” said Raskin. “Every day, federal workers serve the American people. They are scientists, engineers, doctors, park rangers, letter carriers and workers of every type. They protect us from foreign and domestic threats, disease, and dangerous work conditions. They connect the public to old age and disability benefits, provide excellent care for our nation’s veterans, and help keep our air and water clean. They deserve our thanks – not constant insults and pay and benefit cuts.”
Mr. Umanzor lives in Montgomery County with his wife and four children. Three of their children are U.S. citizens and one is a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient. Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced that it would end the TPS program for Salvadorans in 2019, throwing into question the status of approximately 20,000 people in Maryland, including Nelsy, and nearly 200,000 immigrants nationwide. TPS status was granted to Salvadorans in 2001 after a series of earthquakes and devastating landslides in El Salvador. In the 17 years since, TPS protection has been renewed 10 times. Beyond the earthquakes, from which El Salvador has yet to recover, the nation has experienced extreme violence and gang warfare. In 2015, El Salvador had 108.64 homicides per 100,000 people, making it the deadliest country in the world.
“The Trump Administration’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status for 200,000 vulnerable El Salvadorans puts a lot of people in unnecessary crisis and danger,” Raskin noted. “For months, we've called on the Administration to extend TPS designation for this group of people, some 20,000 of whom live in Maryland and call it home. These are hardworking people like Nelsy who have built their lives here – they own homes in our communities, their children are U.S. citizens, and they are working every day to take care of their families. Rescinding protected status is a heartless and destructive policy action that will have profound and irreversible consequences on many lives.”
Congressman Jamie Raskin represents Maryland’s 8th Congressional District, which includes Montgomery, Frederick, and Carroll counties. He is the Vice Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, a Senior Democratic Whip, and Freshman Representative to the House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee. He also serves on the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee and the Committee on House Administration. He has been a professor of constitutional law at American University’s Washington College of Law for more than 25 years.