White House Announces End To Special Protections For Salvadoran Immigrants

Daniel Dell Cornejo

The Trump administration has announced the termination of the temporary protected status (TPS) of around 200,000 Salvadorans, forcing them to leave the country by 2019 or face deportation.

Approximately 200,000 Salvadorans were allowed to live in the United States following a series of earthquakes in El Salvador in 2001.

The termination of the Salvadorans' temporary protected status will occur on September 9, 2019, to provide them the opportunity to leave the United States or attain legal residency.

The 2019 date also intends to give El Salvador time to ready for their return.

Citizens of four countries (now including El Salvador) have lost temporary protected status under the Trump administration in its push to deport immigrants residing in the country illegally.

The Salvadorans join Haitians and Nicaraguans, who are set to lose their protected status in 2019, as well, in addition to Hondurans, who will lose it later this year.

The Trump administration has said that the program, which provides relief to nations impacted by natural disasters or other hardship, is not intended to give immigrants permanent residency in the U.S.

According to U.S. News, the decision will "send shivers" through cities with large Salvadoran immigrant populations like Los Angeles, New York, and Houston.

Many of the Salvadorans would be leaving behind families and businesses started in the 17 years after El Salvador was struck by a number of earthquakes that killed over 1,000 people.

U.S. News also says the White House's decision will pose a "serious challenge" for El Salvador, which depends heavily on money sent by workers in the United States.

The Obama administration extended provisional residencies for Salvadorans for 18 months in September 2016, saying that the Central American nation was still feeling the effects of the 2001 earthquakes and could not feasibly take in such a large number of returning people.

Today, the Trump administration sees things differently, saying that conditions the country are now adequate enough to justify the end of TPS for Salvadorans.

"Based on careful consideration of available information, including recommendations received as part of an inter-agency consultation process, the Secretary determined that the original conditions caused by the 2001 earthquakes no longer exist," reads a statement from the Department of Homeland Security.

According to the Washington Post, the decision was criticized by many, including immigrant advocates and Salvadoran officials who disagree that conditions in El Salvador are suitable.

Among concerns raised by critical groups are El Salvador's gang violence and the potential negative effects a big influx of people would have on the country.

"[The decision] not only will uproot families and children who have lived here for years, it also will further destabilize an already violent country," said the Center of Migration Studies' Kevin Appleby. "It is incredibly shortsighted and undermines our interest in a stable Central America."

According to CNN, criticism of the decision can be found on both sides of the aisle.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Virginia, called it "inhumane" and "not consistent with American values" while Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Florida, said it would be "devastating" to send immigrants back to El Salvador and cited their "countless contributions to our society and our local communities."

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