U.S. ending immigration protection for Salvadorans

09 January, 2018, 00:30 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • 200,000 Salvadorans could lose US residency and face expulsion

The protection program has been recently criticized by Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, who said in an October 30 letter to the Department of Homeland Security that immigrants living in the USA under TPS were taking "jobs that might otherwise be filled by one of the 7.1 million unemployed Americans".

"The substantial disruption of living conditions caused by the earthquake" no longer exists, the department said in a statement.

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

Democratic leaders and immigrant advocacy groups greeted the decision with resounding dismay, saying well-established families - many with USA -born children - will be separated and people will be forced to return to heavy violence in El Salvador.

Salvadorans will have until September 2019 to leave or obtain other legal options to stay in the United States, according to the Washington Post. A senior administration official pointed out that the decision was made in part because El Salvador received a number of repatriated Salvadoran immigrants previous year; that reconstruction projects have been completed in El Salvador, including hospitals and schools; and that other infrastructure needs have been repaired.

Many Salvadoran immigrants here say they fear returning to their homeland because of the gangs, including MS-13, and not just because of their country's poverty and the destruction left by the 2001 earthquakes that led to the designation.

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen made the determination after "an extensive outreach campaign" to federal government officials, the Salvadoran government and other partners, including community groups, according to the administration official.


The Trump administration has faced a series of deadlines over the past year to decide whether to end the protected status of immigrants in the United States whose home countries have been affected by disasters. The economy is in part based on people working in the United States and other countries sending money back to family and loved ones.

"Allowing them to stay longer only undermines the integrity of the program and essentially makes the "temporary" protected status a front operation for backdoor permanent immigration", added Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA. That is more than three times the number of people in the next largest group with the status, Hondurans.

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.

More than 90 percent of TPS beneficiaries come from Honduras, El Salvador and Haiti.

"Getting them to a permanent solution is a much better plan than having them live six months to 12 months to 18 months", she told the AP. Haitians have also been protected since a 2010 natural disaster.

The pending deadline marks the first major immigration decision that will fall to Nielsen, who has thus far pledged to carry on the legacy of her predecessor and former boss, John Kelly, who is now White House chief of staff. Other countries covered are Nepal, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

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