Trump Administration Ends Protected Status for Nearly 200,000 Salvadoran Immigrants

In 2001, a devastating earthquake ravaged El Salvador, and the Bush administration extended what’s known as temporary protected status, or TPS, to El Salvadorans in the United States who were unable to return because of the disruption. This included many people who had fled El Salvador without documentation in the 1990s, trying to avoid war-torn parts of the country.

Now, the Trump administration has announced that it intends to roll back TPS for El Salvadorans in the U.S., arguing that the extraordinary circumstances no longer exist, and it’s time for these immigrants to return home.

This mirrors a similar decision regarding Haitians who also benefited from TPS, announced late last year. People affected by this policy change are worried, and it reflects yet another Trump administration attempt to lock down the U.S. border and deny opportunities to people who can’t obtain legal residency. With all eyes on DACA and the DREAM Act, this issue should be on your radar, too.

Here’s the deal with TPS: The government can decide that a triggering event — like an earthquake, a revolution or another major incident — makes a nation unsafe for residents to return to. As a result, officials may announce that eligible nationals of that country can receive emergency protections.

In order to qualify for TPS, people must meet the standards established for the given situation. They also need to pay a great deal of money in registration fees, subject themselves to background checks and other interviews and complete considerable bureaucratic requirements.

Like refugees, people in the United States under TPS are among the most thoroughly vetted in the country. They receive work permits, and pay taxes, in addition to contributing to society — although they are not permitted to vote because they aren’t citizens.

TPS doesn’t provide a path to citizenship, though undocumented immigrants receive a temporary grace period as long as the status holds. But when TPS is renewed year after year — for a decade or more — people understandably put down deep roots.

Immigrants live and work in communities across the country, building families and connections. Children born to parents with TPS may not feel very connected to the nation of their parents’ origin, and those who arrived in the U.S. very young, but later received TPS, may similarly feel more “American” than anything else. Parents are particularly worried about their minor children, and the decision to leave them in the United States, or take them back to an unfamiliar and violent country.

The Department of Homeland Security, in the name of keeping things “orderly,” plans to wrap up TPS for El Salvadorans scattered across the United States over the course of 18 months. But at the end of this period, everyone who loses TPS and isn’t living in the United States legally will be deported.

That’s almost 200,000 people, and those departures could fracture families, businesses and communities — especially in areas with a large Salvadoran population.

Meanwhile, a similar decision on whether to extend TPS for Honduras is expected to land in July. And if the Trump administration’s track record is any indicator, Hondurans can probably guess what the outcome will be.

While the Department of Homeland Security can terminate TPS if it believes a nation no longer qualifies, it’s not the only entity with the power to act on immigration. The president could sign an executive order — not terribly likely — while the courts could adjudicate a case in favor of an immigrant, if the right case presented itself.

But Congress could also make a move, developing and passing legislation to address the problems with immigration policy that make life so tenuous for people who want to live and take part in the United States, but lack formal legal recognition.

Take action!

You can join other Care2 activists in calling for Congress to reverse this terrible decision, and you can also call your representatives directly to express your concern.

Photo Credit: Lorie Shaull/Flickr

77 comments

Marie W
Marie W4 months ago

Thanks for sharing the info.

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Jack Y
Jack Y7 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y7 months ago

thanks

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John J
John J7 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J7 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Dave f
Dave f9 months ago

Thanks

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Danuta W
Danuta W10 months ago

Thanks for posting

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Chrissie R
Chrissie R10 months ago

Thank you for posting.

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Janis K
Janis K10 months ago

You signed on January 8, 2018 - It's time to deport Trump!

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Anne F
Anne F10 months ago

We have been carefully vetted these people and they are doing well here. Withdrawing TPS is a bad policy.

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