In another blow to the international community, the Trump administration announced on Jan. 8 that it would end the Temporary Protected Status program for El Salvador, which currently allows for over 200,000 immigrants to live in peace in the United States. The protected status for Salvadorans will officially end Sept. 9, 2019.
TPS, which is not intended to lead to citizenship, was created in order to allow migrants from a list of endangered countries to flee natural disasters or internal conflicts.
One of the almost 193,000 children, who have been born in the United States to at least one parent who is a Salvadoran with TPS, expressed worry about the impending struggles that he and his family will face.
College junior Jonathan Guevara, who has family members protected by TPS, said he is working on “plans a, b, and c” to protect his family once their TPS protection ends. He, along with his close relatives, have been worried about what is to come following the decision to terminate TPS for Salvadorans.
“Since [my family] has until September 2019, they’re just scrambling around right now,” he said. “For me, my first thought was, ‘Now I have to petition for my mom as soon as possible,' which is tough because I, myself, have to earn a really high income. So, it’s not that easy.”
Penn Law professor and Director of the Transnational Legal Clinic Sarah Paoletti noted immigrants from El Salvador make up the largest portion of TPS holders out of all the beneficiaries.
According to the National Immigration Forum, more than 320,000 immigrants have been granted protected status under TPS, including those from nations for whom the Trump administration has chosen not to renew protections. Salvadorans make up roughly 60 percent of those in the U.S. that are protected by TPS.
Congress first granted Salvadoran migrants protected status with the passage of the Immigration Act of 1990, in order to aid citizens fleeing from its brutal civil war. The initial protection expired two years later.
Former President George W. Bush's administration returned the country to the TPS list after a 2001 earthquake. Both Bush and former President Barack Obama renewed the protections for 18-month periods more than 10 times, as the nation continued to suffer from intense gang violence and a fragile economy.
TPS – and frequent changes in its coverage – has been on the minds of students and faculty since last November when the Trump administration announced the endings of protections for various countries.
On Nov. 6, the Trump administration announced that it would not be renewing protected status for close to 5,000 migrants from Nicaragua. They were informed they would be given 14 months to leave the United States. On Nov. 21, the administration announced it would allow the protected status of approximately 59,000 migrants from Haiti to expire. They would be given 18 months to leave, prompting widespread panic in the community.
Paoletti raised the question of why the administration is compelled to make this decision now. She also noted recent remarks from President Donald Trump that were anti-immigrant and racist.
The Washington Post reported that at a recent White House meeting, Trump specifically questioned why the government should allow Haitian immigrants into the U.S.
“I think if we look at this decision to terminate TPS for Salvadorans in the same vein as recent comments made in the White House by this president we can see sort of what is driving this determination in an anti-immigrant administration,” Paoletti said.
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