USA ending special protections for Salvadoran immigrants

Laura Christensen
January 9, 2018

President Donald Trump, accompanied by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, speaks during a meeting with Republican Senators on immigration at the White House in Washington on January 4, 2018.

"The substantial disruption of living conditions caused by the earthquake" no longer exists, the department said in a statement.

They have enjoyed special protection since earthquakes struck the Central American country in 2001, and many have established deep roots in the US, starting families and businesses.

This report presents detailed statistical information on the US Temporary Protected Status (TPS) populations from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti. Losing them could cost the US about $280 million in contributions to gross domestic product, according to an analysis by the Immigrant Resource Center, which promotes immigrant rights. There are more than 260,000 Salvadoran immigrants with the status in the United States, including more than 36,000 in Texas, according to the Center for American Progress.

"Anyone who knows anything about El Salvador knows that it has become one of the most unsafe countries in the world and you are now going to be deporting people who have lived in this country without any criminal background, for the last 20 years on average, to a country where their lives will be in grave danger", Young said.

There were 262,500 people, mostly adults, under TPS across the United States as of October 2017, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that administers the TPS program. The Salvadorans were granted TPS after a pair of 2001 earthquakes slammed the country.

Homeland Security also said more than 39,000 Salvadorans have returned home from the U.S.in two years, demonstrating El Salvador's capacity to absorb people.

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Two U.S. officials discussed the decision on condition of anonymity with The Associated Press because they were not authorized to speak publicly ahead of the announcement. The decision was heavily criticized by immigrant advocates who said it ignored violence in El Salvador, which has one of the world's highest murder rates.

Under President Donald Trump - who has boasted of his goal to reduce legal immigration - other TPS designations have also been halted, including for citizens of Sudan, Haiti, and Nicaragua, while the designation for Hondurans was automatically extended for six months.

"Allowing them to stay longer only undermines the integrity of the program and essentially makes the "temporary" protected status a front operation for backdoor permanent immigration", added Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA.

More than one-half of El Salvadoran and Honduran, and 16 percent of the Haitian TPS beneficiaries have resided in the United States for 20 years or more.

El Salvador President Salvador Sanchez Ceren spoke by phone Friday with Nielsen to renew his plea to extend status for 190,000 Salvadorans and allow more time for Congress to deliver a long-term fix for them to stay in the U.S.

Congressional Democrats are already moving to try to create a new pathway to citizenship for TPS holders, giving them an official way to remain in the US permanently, as part of ongoing discussions over the fate of so-called Dreamers, another category of sympathetic illegal immigrants.

Other reports by My Hot News

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