Trump is revoking 260,000 Salvadoran immigrants’ permission to live in the United States
On Monday, the Trump administration announced that it was stripping approximately 260,500 Salvadoran immigrants — who’ve been in the US for at least 17 years, since a 2001 earthquake — of temporary legal status as of July 2019.
It’s the latest, and most significant, blow in the administration’s fight against Temporary Protected Status, an immigration program that lets the government allow immigrants to stay in the US and work legally after their home countries are struck by natural disasters or war.
El Salvador is the fourth country for which the Trump administration has announced an end to TPS protections over its first year. In total, the administration has set up more than 320,000 immigrants to lose their legal status over the course of late 2018 and 2019 (and possibly as many as 375,000, depending on what it decides to do with 57,000 Honduran immigrants this spring).
The overwhelming majority of those immigrants have deep roots in the US. And Salvadorans might have the deepest roots of all: Approximately 192,700 US-born children have at least one parent who’s on track to lose legal status due to the administration’s Monday announcement.
The Trump administration argues that the TPS program was never intended to allow immigrants to stay for 17 years, and that it needs to end temporary status to provide a “permanent solution.” But it’s unclear, at best, that the Trump administration will be interested in pushing Congress to legalize hundreds of thousands of Central American (and Haitian) immigrants. Furthermore, the administration is telling Salvadoran immigrants that they have 18 months to make other arrangements to stay in the US or pack their bags.
After two decades in the US, hundreds of thousands of families will now have to decide whether to return to one of the most violent countries on earth — or remain in the US as unauthorized immigrants and try to slink into the shadows.
No president wanted to end humanitarian immigration. Then came Donald Trump.
Temporary Protected Status serves as a form of humanitarian relief, offered to nationals of countries struggling with the aftermath of war, natural disasters, or other humanitarian crises where conditions on the ground make it difficult for people to return safely. Ten countries — El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen — are currently in the program, which is overseen by the Department of Homeland Security and is granted in six- to 18-month intervals that can be renewed as long as DHS deems a designation necessary.
El Salvador was on the TPS list in the 1990s during its long and bloody civil war, but was removed in 1992 (though a related program, Deferred Enforced Departure, protected Salvadorans from getting deported through 1995). In 2001, though, after an earthquake struck El Salvador, the government allowed Salvadorans in the US to apply for TPS again. In the intervening 17 years, it’s renewed protections 10 times.
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