In 2001, George W. Bush granted over 200,000 El Salvadorans temporary protected status in the United States in light of earthquakes that devastated the Central American country. TPS is an immigration designation designed to temporarily relieve other governments from the burden of receiving deported nationals from the United States during times of crisis. TPS allowed all El Salvadoran residents in the U.S., regardless of status, eligibility to stay and work (with renewal of status every 18 months).
The idea was that by allowing TPS recipients to work in the U.S., they could help support their families back home, while sparing their home countries the logistical and financial hardship of receiving thousands of nationals at once.
This week, the Department of Homeland Security has elected not to renew El Salvador’s TPS status.
The Statement from DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen
The decision was paired with a statement from the Secretary of the DHS, Kirstjen Nielsen, who said “Only Congress can legislate a permanent solution addressing the lack of an enduring lawful immigration status of those protected by TPS.” They also mentioned that El Salvador’s improved conditions no longer merited temporary protected status.
Government officials from El Salvador have publicly disagreed with the DHS’ assessment. The UN recently designated El Salvador as the nation with the highest homicide rate for a nation not at war. The country is also suffering from a severe gang violence problem, as well as destabilization from drought and other natural disasters. The influx of 200,000+ nationals could make the nation’s problems even worse. Their officials have implored Secretary Nielsen to reverse her decision.
Kevin Appleby of the Center for Migration Studies says “[The decision] is incredibly short-sighted and undermines our interest in a stable Central America.”
Both Democrat and Republican lawmakers have stated that the DHS decision seems less motivated by the needs of the U.S. or El Salvador and more motivated by scoring points with extreme right-wing supporters of the Trump administration.
The Massive Blow to American Businesses & Families
Deporting 200,000 El Salvadorans isn’t simply a matter of booking planes and sending people “home.” Most of the TPS recipients have let down roots. One third of these TPS recipients are homeowners, and there are roughly 190,000 U.S.-born children of El Salvadoran nationals in the country. The mayors of Houston and Los Angeles (among other cities) have also asked Nielsen to reconsider her decision in light of the impact to the local economy and local businesses.
Currently, the DHS has no solution for the parents of U.S.-born children who are being asked to leave the country in 18 months.
Nearly 1 Million Immigrants’ Statuses Now in Question
Our blog from yesterday mentioned that the Trump administration is building a wall designed to curtail all immigration—both legal and undocumented. The White House’s policies, many of which have not been as widely reported as the President’s tweets, now leave over 900,000 immigrants uncertain about their future.
These policies include:
- Ending DACA for 700,000 immigrants
- Ending TPS for Haiti (60,000 immigrants)
- End TPS for Nicaragua (2,500 immigrants)
...on top of the 200,000 El Salvadorans affected by the recent decision. These are people who have contributed their time, sweat, and spirit to American communities. They’ve built businesses, started families, and bought homes while trusting that our government would give them a fair shot.
This DHS decision betrays that trust—and threatens to undo all that they’ve built.
Opposed by Immigration Lawyers Nationwide
The AILA released a statement making clear our disappointment in the department's decision:
"It is beyond callous to rescind TPS now and send nearly 200,000 people and their families to a country still in chaos from environmental destruction and criminal activity, including a tragically high homicide rate, particularly given the strong roots that Salvadorans have put down in the United States," says AILA President Annaluisa Padilla. "Revoking TPS harms communities, families, and businesses across the nation. This is a misguided and inhumane decision."
AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson added, "TPS holders have built lives here; they have pursued educational opportunities; they have contributed their labor and skills to our communities; they have been vetted repeatedly and thoroughly by the U.S. government each time they reapplied for protection...Congress must act on the bipartisan bills that have been introduced which would provide an opportunity for permanent residence for those who have followed our laws and strengthened our communities."
Attorney Lloyd Bennett and the rest of our law firm stands with the countless immigration lawyers and advocates who oppose the DHS decision. We refuse to let our neighbors and friends uproot their lives and children without fighting for every possible chance to stay in the U.S.
If you or a loved one is affected by the Trump administration’s new policies, contact our New Jersey immigration attorney for help. Call (800) 909-8129 or use our online form to reach out to us.