The Trump Administration Will End Protected Status for 200000 Salvadorans

Casey Dawson
January 9, 2018

Young and other advocates are also concerned about the impact of the decision on local economies like Long Island's and the fate of US citizen children of affected families.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security confirmed it would end special protections for Salvadoran immigrants, forcing almost 200,000 to leave the country or face deportation.

Salvadorans living in the USA under the temporary protected status (TPS) will have to return home or seek alternative immigration status by September 2019.

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen determined that circumstances resulting from the 2001 earthquakes 'no longer exist, ' senior White House administration officials said on a press call Monday about the program's termination. "Schools and hospitals damaged by the earthquakes have been reconstructed and repaired, homes have been rebuilt, and money has been provided for water and sanitation and to fix quake damaged roads and other infrastructure", a news release from the DHS said. If Nielsen opts to end the Salvadorans' protections, it likely would give them 12 to 18 months to apply for some other visa to stay in the United States or prepare to leave. According to the Congressional Research Service, there were up to 262,528 Salvadorans under TPS as of October 2017.

TPS for Salvadorans was first established in 2001 after earthquakes devastated the country.

The administration of President Donald Trump on Monday terminated a program that shielded more than 260,000 Salvadoran immigrants from deportation.

Homeland Security also said more than 39,000 Salvadorans have returned home from the two years, demonstrating El Salvador's capacity to absorb people.

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It also represents a serious challenge for El Salvador, a country of 6.2 million people whose economy depends on remittances from wage earners in the U.S. Over the last decade, growing numbers of Salvadorans - many coming as families or unaccompanied children - have entered the United States illegally through Mexico, fleeing violence and poverty. The "temporary protected status", as it is known, lasts for about two years before needing to be renewed.

"Only Congress can legislate a permanent solution addressing the lack of an enduring lawful immigration status of those now protected by TPS who have lived and worked in the United States for many years", the announcement stated.

President Donald Trump, accompanied by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, speaks during a meeting with Republican Senators on immigration at the White House in Washington on January 4, 2018. The decision was heavily criticized by immigrant advocates who said it ignored violence in El Salvador, which has one of the world's highest murder rates.

Congressional Democrats are already moving to try to create a new pathway to citizenship for TPS holders, giving them an official way to remain in the US permanently, as part of ongoing discussions over the fate of so-called Dreamers, another category of sympathetic illegal immigrants.

The benefit, which includes work authorization, can be renewed up to 18 months at a time by the Homeland Security secretary.

This fall, her department ended temporary protected designations for thousands of immigrants, including more than 50,000 from Haiti and thousands more from Nicaragua and Sudan, which critics say needlessly uproots contributing immigrants to send them back to unstable countries. Spagat reported from San Diego.

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