Trump admin. states 200,000 Salvadorans must leave the US

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LOS ANGELES — Nearly 200,000 people from El Salvador who have been allowed to live in the United States for more than a decade must leave the country, government officials announced Monday. It is the Trump administration's latest reversal of years of immigration policies and one of the most consequential to date.

Homeland security officials said that they were ending a humanitarian program, known as Temporary Protected Status, for Salvadorans who have been allowed to live and work legally in the United States since a pair of devastating earthquakes struck their country in 2001.

Salvadorans were by far the largest group of foreigners benefiting from temporary protected status, which shielded them from deportation if they had arrived in the United States illegally. The decision came just weeks after more than 45,000 Haitians lost protections granted after Haiti's 2010 earthquake, and it suggested that others in the program, namely Hondurans, may soon lose them as well. Nicaraguans lost their protections last year.

Immigrant advocates and the El Salvadoran government had pleaded for the United States to extend the program, as it has several times since 2001. A sense of dread gripped Salvadorans and their employers in California, Texas, Virginia and elsewhere.

Despite its name, the administration says, the Temporary Protected Status program, known as TPS, had turned into a quasi-permanent benefit for hundreds of thousands of people.

The Department of Homeland Security said that because damaged roads, schools, hospitals, homes and water systems had been reconstructed since the earthquakes, the Salvadorans no longer belonged in the program.

"Based on careful consideration of available information," the department said in a statement, "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."

The administration is giving Salvadorans in the program until September 2019 to get their affairs in order. After that, they no longer will have permission to stay in the country.

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