The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has announced that Salvadorans living in the United States under Temporary Protected Status, TPS, will need to leave the country within 18 months.
Salvadoran TPS recipients received this status in 2001, when the country was rocked by a devastating earthquake.
TPS is a government program that extends temporary legal status in the U.S. to citizens of other countries where natural disasters or civil wars have made it too dangerous for them to return. Members can legally work in the U.S. and are required to pay taxes. The program, however, does not provide a path to citizenship.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, DHS, which administers the program, conditions in El Salvador have improved since the 2001 earthquake, which killed approximately 1,000 people. The institution claimed it found no reason to renew TPS based on the natural disaster.
“Only Congress can legislate a permanent solution addressing the lack of an enduring lawful immigration status of those currently protected by TPS who have lived and worked in the United States for many years,” wrote Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in Monday's announcement, ending the 17-year program. “The 18-month delayed termination will allow Congress time to craft a potential legislative solution.”
The United We Dream organization tweeted of the Trump administration’s move, “DHS has ended TPS for (Salvadorans) - another step of Trump’s racist agenda to force people of color into the shadows.”
The “first and largest immigrant youth-led organization” in the United States called on Congress to "save TPS or they'll be complicit in mass expulsion of people who have lived in the U.S. for nearly 20 years.”
El Salvador’s Ministry of Foreign Relations released an immediate statement to the news, thanking the nearly 200,000 Salvadorans with TPS for their “economic, cultural and social contributions to El Salvador.
The letter stated that the Central American government is “committed to looking for alternatives” for TPS recipients, which includes “working with the U.S. Congress to gain established migratory status” within the country.
Over the past few days, U.S. elected officials have urged the Trump government to keep TPS in effect for Salvadorans. California Congress member Jimmy Panetta tweeted, "@realDonaldTrump, tomorrow is the deadline to extend #TPS for 200k Salvadorans. They own businesses & homes and pay taxes. W/o them, U.S. would lose billions from GDP, Social Sec & Medicare, and employers would pay millions in turnover costs. We are all relying on you to #SaveTPS."
So far, Trump's administration has canceled TPS for Sudan, Nicaragua and Haiti. Honduras is the only Latin American country whose TPS program has not been revoked.