Nearly 200,000 people from El Salvador have been told they must leave the U.S. by September 2019 because their Temporary Protected Status (T.P.S.) has not been renewed by the Trump administration. El Salvador was one of the first countries participating in the T.P.S. program beginning in 1990 when their country experienced a civil war. Most recently, victims of the 2001 earthquakes in El Salvador were permitted to live and work legally in the U.S. under the program. Now Salvadorans with T.P.S. status, many of whom have children born in the U.S., must decide what they will do when their time here runs out.
Salvadorans make up the largest group with T.P.S. status and are the latest group to lose this designation. Nicaraguans lost their protected status last year, and Haitians living in the U.S. because of a 2010 earthquake were recently informed that their T.P.S. protections are ending. Other groups in the program, particularly Hondurans, seem to also be at risk for losing protected status.
How T.P.S. Works
Temporary Protected Status is extended to people already living in the United States whose home countries are affected by natural disasters, armed conflict, or other unrest. It gives them temporary legal status to stay and work in the U.S. regardless of whether their entry was lawfully documented. Which countries make the list and if their status is renewed is a decision made by the homeland security secretary. There is no limit to how many times a country’s status can be extended and renewals are typically for six, twelve, or eighteen months.
In 2001, many Salvadorans fled their country when two earthquakes killed more than 1,000 people and destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes. In March of that year, they were granted T.P.S. and over the years their status was extended many times by both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. In 2016, some of the reasons for extending the designation included drought, poverty, and widespread violence. Although the country has since recovered from the earthquake, it remains a dangerous place with the slowest growing economy in all of Central America, according to the World Bank. However, the Trump administration says that because the original reason for the designation no longer exists, T.P.S. for Salvadorans should be terminated.
The Effects of Ending T.P.S.
Salvadorans with T.P.S. in the United States include 192,700 children who were born here. They are an active part of the labor force. While on average, 63 percent of all Americans are working, 88 percent of Salvadorans with protected status have a job. Many of them send money back to their families in El Salvador – accounting for almost 17 percent of that country’s economy.
Employers who have Salvadoran workers on payroll will be forced to fire them when their protected status expires in September 2019.
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