The Trump administration recently announced its plan to terminate the Temporary Protected Status of approximately 200,000 Salvadorans currently living in the United States, all but guaranteeing that many will face deportation.
CREDIT: Protesters at an Oakland rally to defend TPS for Salvadorans and many others at risk. Photo credit: Peg Hunter / Flickr
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is granted by the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to eligible foreign-born individuals who cannot return to their birth country safely because of conditions or circumstances that can cause them harm. TPS was granted to Salvadorans after earthquakes ravaged El Salvador in 2001, and their permits have been renewed on an 18-month basis since that time.
DHS said that TPS for Salvadorans will end on Sept. 9, 2019, stating that conditions that led to the original designation are no longer applicable.
“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,” the DHS statement read.
This move reinforces the Trump administration’s hard-line stance on foreigners living in the country. It has already ended the TPS designation for Nicaraguans, Haitians, and Sudanese, while offering short-term extensions for Hondurans and South Sudanese.
Adding insult to injury, Trump referred to El Salvador, Haiti, and African nations as “shithole countries” in a meeting with lawmakers last Thursday.
CREDIT: Photo credit: Peg Hunter / Flickr
The comment sparked global outrage and has caused a case of he said-he said between the two political parties. Sen. Dick Durban (D-Ill.), who attended the meeting, confirmed that Trump used that language, while Republican Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue said they “do not recall” the president saying those specific comments.
Trump denies using the term “shithole” and told reporters over the weekend that he is the “least racist person you have ever interviewed.” The most recent reports add a perplexing, but nonetheless troubling, twist: Cotton and Perdue, according to three White House sources, believe Trump said “shithouse” rather than “shithole.”
Regardless of the exact syntax, hundreds of thousands of lives now hang in the balance. According to DHS officials, 262,500 Salvadorans have received TPS permits. These individuals will have nearly two years to either leave the United States on their own or apply for a green card. However, the convoluted and backlogged U.S. immigration system will likely make the latter all but impossible.
Democrats, immigration advocates, and Salvadoran government officials have condemned this decision, calling on DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to extend the designation due to El Salvador’s growing gang violence.
The Economist reports that El Salvador was ranked as the world′s most violent country, and its capital, San Salvador, the city with the most murders in both 2015 and 2016.
What’s more, El Salvador is struggling to provide economic opportunities for its citizens who currently live there. An influx of new residents could prove problematic. Jeannette Aguilar, who operates a public polling center at Central American University in San Salvador, tells the LA Times that mass U.S. deportations would negatively affect the country’s economy and further compromise security.
“Without a doubt this will be a crisis of grand dimensions,” Aguilar said.
In the U.S., many Salvadorans are worried about losing everything they’ve established – families, businesses, careers, and communities. In a statement, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California called the decision “senseless.”
“Our communities will be dealt a serious blow when families are broken apart, when parents and children are separated, and when we see the near simultaneous layoffs of 200,000 Salvadoran TPS recipients currently employed, costing employers nearly $1 billion in immediate turnover costs,” said David Huerta, president of SEIU United Service Workers West (USWW). “We are losing invaluable workers thoroughly vetted by the government, we are losing mothers and fathers who are working to provide the best for their families, and neighbors who have invested in their communities.”