Things That Matter

As The Trump Administration Guts Temporary Protected Status For Most Groups Why Is It Being Extended For Salvadorans?

One of the big headlines gracing our screens at the moment is the revelation that the US has agreed to extend TPS, or Temporary Protected Status, for Salvadorans. This is music to a lot of people’s ears – from lawyers, to activists, and of course, to the very people this law is about: Salvadorans who have emigrated to the US. But what exactly does this mean, you ask? Well, read on to find out.

People have been saying that this is an extension of an extension.

Which is a pretty fair assessment, even if it’s only half-true. Originally, TPS was due to expire in January 2020 – a deadline that was creeping up frighteningly quickly, considering we’ve only two months of the year left. The reason why the program was set to expire this coming January in the first place? Because the Trump administration had originally decided to strip pretty much everyone of their TPS protections, and it was only after federal courts stepped in that TPS was extended to January 2020.

This original extension was the result of a decision to ensure that the US legal system had time to follow due process before TPS was completely scrapped.

However, for the roughly 200,000 Salvadorans affected by this new decision, they now have an extra year of TPS – until January 2021 – before they risk deportation. The government has been careful not to dub this extra time as an “extension,” though, clarifying that the period is intended to give Salvadorans in the US time to sort out their affairs before ending the TPS provisions.

This new date places Salvadorans on an ever-shrinking list of people protected by the TPS program.

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However, it wasn’t always this way. The reason why the TPS became a thing in the first place was because Congress created a standardized system for granting temporary protections to people fleeing political and/or environmental catastrophes in their home country. This coincides with the US’ ratification of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, or, The Big Important International Agreement Signed By A Bunch of Countries Saying They’ll Take In Asylum Seekers. It was decided in 1992 that Salvadorans fit the profile for TPS after things got pretty messed up in El Salvador, what with all-mighty earthquakes and general political chaos.

But the TPS program these days is getting smaller and smaller.

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Anyone originally harking from Haiti, Liberia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, or Yemen are set to see their TPS and/or DED, or Deferred Enforced Departure, expire between January and March 2020. Which, as we’ve already pointed out, is just around the corner. In fact, the only countries that have seen a reprieve, aside from El Salvador, are South Sudan and Venezuela. We’re sure we’re not the only ones thinking this: yikes.

This trouble with the TPS isn’t the first time Trump and his squad have attempted to root out and punish immigrants living in the US.

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This has happened so many times before now, it’s almost hard to keep track of it all. We’ve seen Muslim bans, ICE raids, children separated from their parents, attempts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, overcrowded detention centers, and now this. It’s no wonder that the Trump administration has argued that natural disasters from years ago shouldn’t be used to substantiate petitions to stay in the US.

The thing is that these arguments ignore some pretty crucial reasons why these people should be allowed to stay in the US.

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Firstly, they’ve built a life in the US – whether it be careers, a home, family, or friends. Secondly, a lot of these places are still experiencing a lot of turmoil that would be plain traumatizing to return to. And thirdly, deporting an influx of people back to these places may actually create even more problems for those countries. They most likely won’t have the infrastructure, resources, or even economies to accept and support a huge amount of people. In fact, deportation on a mass scale may exacerbate the very issues that are driving people to cross the border into the US in the first place – and likely just continue a vicious cycle. 

Getting back to the original topic: while this non-extension gives a reprieve to those who clearly need it, moving the deadline just means that the end of the TPS program has become the problem for the America of the future to face. And though we don’t necessarily condone procrastination, there is something to be said about the fact that this new TPS expiry date falls after the 2020 Presidential elections. And who knows what the US President of 2021 will think of the TPS system?

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