Are TPS Lobbyists Paid by a Foreign Government?

By Dan Cadman on October 3, 2019

My colleague Jason Peña has posted a blog discussing a meeting held between El Salvador's President, Nayib Bukele, and a lobbying group that calls itself the National TPS Alliance. They are seeking to persuade Congress to amend the immigration laws to permit the granting of green cards to all of the various nationals from countries subject to loss of TPS (Temporary Protected Status).

According to representatives of this alliance, Bukele has promised funds to help the organization move forward with its goals. I find this interesting in light of the bilateral agreement recently inked between the United States and El Salvador, which provides for that country's help in acting as a safe third country/staging area to host amnesty applicants from Central America's Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras), rather than permit them either to cluster in Mexico waiting or, alternately, "jumping the line" by illegally crossing into the United States and filing for asylum — an increasingly iffy proposition given the legal limbo status of new rules promulgated by the Department of Homeland Security prohibiting such filings by illegal crossers.

It's interesting for at least three reasons: First, it means that despite the strong allure of having such an agreement, which will go a long way toward easing the border crisis fueled by mass illegal entries of Central Americans over the past few years, the Trump administration at least in this instance offered no quid pro quo to anyone in return for Salvador's decision to go forward — else, why would the country's president be so interested in funding the efforts of the Alliance? He wouldn't need to.

Second, if the Alliance has been involved in any way in the court actions filed by TPS recipients who have sued the government to prevent it from terminating their status, one wonders whether or not the organization should also be filing briefs with the respective court(s) to report their receipt of funds from a foreign nation that has a clear and present interest in the outcome of this domestic lawsuit.

Third, if this lobbying organization accepts foreign money, I hope they realize that they had better file with the U.S. Department of Justice as registered foreign agents. That, too, has become a hot potato over the last couple of years, and failure to do so brings with it not only severe civil penalties, but also the possibility of criminal jail sentences.

Just something to consider.