The Trump Administration has announced that more refugees will be losing their temporary protected status (TPS.)
As part of Trump’s strict immigration reform plans, 200,000 El Salvadoran migrants will either have to seek citizenship or return home by September 2019. If not, they will risk being deported.
“The decision to terminate TPS for El Salvador was made after a review of the disaster-related conditions upon which the country’s original designation was based and an assessment of whether those originating conditions continue to exist as required by statute. 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. Thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated…” wrote the Department of Homeland Security in the announcement. “Additionally, in recent years, the U.S. government has been repatriating individuals back to El Salvador – more than 39,000 in the last two years – demonstrating that the temporary inability of El Salvador to adequately return their nationals after the earthquake has been addressed.”
The El Salvadoran migrants, which is the largest group with protected status, were granted the status after an earthquake hit the country in 2001. Since then, the TPS has been repeatedly expanded by the last two presidents.
Many of the migrants were already in the U.S. illegally before the natural disaster, but used the TPS program to remain in the country legally.
“[Oscar] Cortez, a father of two, said he came to the United States in 2000, after he dropped out of college in El Salvador because he couldn’t afford the tuition and was downsized out of a job at a textile factory. Undocumented at first, he worked low-wage, sporadic jobs laying carpet or cutting lawns …” writes the Washington Post. “His co-worker Jaime Contreras, a welder on the project that will extend Metrorail to Dulles International Airport, said his job has transformed his family’s lives, both in Maryland and in El Salvador. As a child in El Salvador, Contreras went to school in the mornings and to work in the afternoons, painting houses at age 7 and welding at 11. At 20, he moved to the United States seeking higher wages.”
Democrats and immigration rights groups were quick to criticize the decision claiming that El Salvador is too “unsafe” for these migrants to return home to.
Marselha Gonçalves Margerin of Amnesty International USA called it "a devastating betrayal for thousands of families who arrived at the United States seeking safety as well as their U.S. citizen children."
"If forced to return to El Salvador, mothers, fathers, and children could face extortion, kidnapping, coerced service to gangs, and sexual violence,” said Margerin.
The country is ridden with gang violence. The dangerous gang MS-13 is based in El Salvador, but has created a large network in the U.S.
“These savage criminals are in our communities, and they are a deadly consequence of our unsecured borders and our failed immigration policies,” said Kirstjen Nielsen, Homeland Security secretary.
Critics of the Trump’s recent decision also pointed out that El Salvador’s economy depends on funds coming from the U.S.
"Remittances are at an all-time high," said Carrie Kahn of NPR. "Those are dollars coming back home from relatives abroad. That accounts for nearly a fifth of El Salvador's GDP. That's a huge loss to such a poor country."
But, again TPS is granted based on a specific ongoing conflict, a natural disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. Gang violence was not the reason that the TPS was granted in the first place.
Not to mention, “temporary” is in the name of the program.
"The past practice of allowing foreign nationals to remain in the United States long after an initial emergency in their home countries has ended has undermined the integrity of the program and essentially made the 'temporary' protected status a front operation for backdoor permanent immigration," said Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA.
The Trump Administration has ended the TPS status from several countries in the last few months.
The administration renewed the TPS grant for 2010 Haiti earthquake victims by six months initially, but it was ultimately announced in November that the TPS for 60,000 Haitians would be canceled.
Author’s note: This is all part of Trump’s America First strategy. This opens up more jobs for Americans. It also pressures the Democrats to get on board with Trump’s immigration reforms.