The U.S. Department of Homeland Security confirms that it is ending special protections for Salvadoran immigrants, forcing almost 200,000 to leave the country or face deportation.
Immigrant rights advocates argue that it would be wrong for the U.S.to send Salvadorans back to a country with one of the worst homicide rates in the world, particularly when many have USA citizen children who could be targets for gangs if they go with their parents. Salvadorans make up the largest share of immigrants protected by the program, and all of them have lived in the United States since at least 2001. The Department of Homeland Security said in a press release Monday, "The decision to terminate TPS for El Salvador was made after a review of the disaster-related conditions upon which the country's original designation was based and an assessment of whether those originating conditions continue to exist as required by statute".
El Salvador has maintained TPS since 2001 when a major quake devastated the country.
The Trump administration has indicated for months that it believes the "temporary" in "temporary protected status" has been wrongly overlooked for too long. That decision prompted heavy pressure from the White House to end the protections, sources said, though Duke later denied accounts that said she felt distressed and disappointed by the interference from Kelly.
Immigration advocates say that ending the protections will cause major issues for El Salvador, a country of 6.2 million people.
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The DHS will delay termination of TPS for a period of 18 months, which, the DHS says, will "provide time for individuals with TPS to arrange for their departure or to seek an alternative lawful immigration status in the United States, if eligible".
The decision will leave Salvadorans - who were granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) after earthquakes devastated the country - at risk of being deported after the September 9, 2019, deadline.
Trump campaigned on a hard-line approach to immigration and his allies have said the temporary protections have persisted far beyond their original intent. "We'd be very disappointed to see TPS extended yet again - with no credible justification".
The criticism wasn't limited to Democrats.
Oscar Chacón, executive director of Alianza Americas, a network of Latin American and Caribbean immigrant groups in the U.S., said the decision puts the Salvadorans in danger. These are people who are American in all but their paperwork.
"We're pulling the rug out from under them", Appleby said.