On January 8, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced that the United States would terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for immigrants from El Salvador. The United States granted TPS to citizens of El Salvador in January 2001 when a deadly earthquake struck the country.

Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, is a temporary status given to undocumented people who are unable to safely return to their home countries due to armed conflicts, natural disasters or other dangerous and temporary conditions.  Over 200,000 Salvadorans reside in the United States under this program, and now have eighteen months to either leave the United States or find a way to obtain a green card. Once the Salvadorans officially lose TPS, they will also lose other protections including work permits, health insurance, and more.

Many Honduran women are worried about how this decision will affect their and their family’s lives. This includes Veronica Lagunas, a 39 year-old Salvadoran immigrant who cleans offices in Los Angeles. “We had hope that if we worked hard, paid our taxes and didn’t get in trouble we would be allowed to stay…There is nothing to go back to in El Salvador,” said Lagunas. “The infrastructure may be better now, but the country is in no condition to receive us.” Veronica also has two children who were born and raised in the United States and owns a mobile home.

Democratic Members of Congress are outraged by the Trump administration’s decision to revoke protections for the Salvadorans. Senator Elizabeth Warren insists that Congress passes the SECURE (Safe Environment from Countries Under Repression and in Emergency) Act, which ensures that qualified people with Temporary Protective Status can receive permanent residency.

Some Republican members of Congress have criticized the administration’s decision as well. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart stated: “These innocent people fled their home country after a disastrous earthquake, and while living conditions may have slightly improved, El Salvador now faces a significant problem with drug trafficking, gangs and crime.”

More than 300,000 people in the United States are currently covered by TPS. They are from 10 countries: El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Nepal, Syria, Nicaragua, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, and South Sudan. On November 20, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security removed TPS for more than 50,000 Haitians. Haitians who have TPS status have until July 22, 2019 to either leave or receive a visa. Nicaragua and Sudan have also lost their TPS. South Sudan is up for review in May 2019 and Honduras was recently granted a six month extension.

 

News Sources Used: DHS.gov 1/8/18, Washington Post 1/8/18, New York Times 1/8/18, Newsweek 1/9/18, Congress.gov 11/16/17, CNN 1/9/18

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