US to end temporary protected status for El Salvador in 2019
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US to end temporary protected status for El Salvador in 2019

January 9, 2018

The Raw Data

Unspun and unbiased. These are the facts.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Monday it will terminate El Salvador’s Temporary Protected Status (TPS) on Sept. 9, 2019. The DHS indicated Salvadorans could in the interim leave the U.S. or “seek an alternative lawful immigration status” in the country, if eligible.

DHS officials said 262,500 Salvadorans have been granted TPS since 2001. Close to 200,000 Salvadorans currently reside in the U.S. under TPS. Salvadoran Foreign Minister Hugo Martínez said the country will spend the next 18 months lobbying the U.S. Congress for a permanent solution to the issue.

TPS was originally signed into law by President George Bush in 1990, and El Salvador participated in the program in 1994 because of its civil war. The designation was reissued for El Salvador following the 2001 earthquakes that killed more than 1,200 people and destroyed about 150,000 homes. TPS allowed illegal Salvadorans residing in the U.S. before the earthquakes to apply for protected status, allowing them to obtain work permits and prevent deportation. To remain and work in the U.S., TPS beneficiaries must renew permits every 18 months.

The DHS’ statement said the U.S. has repatriated more than 39,000 Salvadorans in the past two years, and “that the temporary inability of El Salvador to adequately return their nationals after the earthquake has been addressed.”

The statement also said, “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,” adding that, “the 18-month delayed termination will allow Congress time to craft a potential legislative solution.”

El Salvador’s government has said TPS workers bring benefits to the U.S. economy. This weekend, the Foreign Ministry tweeted that “95 percent of Salvadorans in the program are employed or own their own businesses.” The World Bank estimated that TPS remittances to El Salvador surpass $4.5 billion a year, which accounts for about 17 percent of the country’s GDP.

Opponents of the decision have cited concerns over violence and gangs in the country, and a “potentially destabilizing effect of so many people being sent home,” according to The Washington Post. One estimate says El Salvador had the world’s second highest murder rate in 2016, with 64.2 murders per 100,000 population. The same estimate indicates about 60 percent of murders are due to gang activity. 

Opponents also cited concerns regarding the more than 192,000 U.S.-born children of TSA beneficiaries, should their parents or relatives be deported.

Proponents of the decision said it will open jobs to U.S. citizens and other lawful residents, and that those who return to El Salvador would bring with them skills and resources that could have a positive impact on the economy.

In November, Haiti’s and Nicaragua’s TPS was also terminated. Honduras’ TPS was extended by six months in December.

Sources: The Los Angeles Times, NPR, The Washington Post (1), The Washington Post (2)