DHS announces end to special status for 200000 Salvadorans

DHS announces end to special status for 200000 Salvadorans

President Donald Trump, accompanied by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, speaks during a meeting with Republican Senators on immigration at the White House in Washington on January 4, 2018.

Having determined that the "original conditions caused by the 2001 earthquakes no longer exist", under the applicable statute, the "current TPS designation must be terminated".

New Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen faces her first major test on immigration policy next week with a decision that could force upwards of 250,000 Central Americans to leave the United States or scramble to find a way to stay.

Termination of the Salvadorans' temporary protected status will take effect September 9, 2019, to give them time to leave or seek lawful residency, and for El Salvador to prepare for their return, officials said. Losing them could cost the USA about $280 million in contributions to gross domestic product, according to an analysis by the Immigrant Resource Center, which promotes immigrant rights. The U.S. has been deporting tens of thousands of illegal immigrants to El Salvador over the last few years, which she concluded means the country is prepared to welcome back its citizens.

There were 262,500 people, mostly adults, under TPS across the United States as of October 2017, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that administers the TPS program.

TPS status should be extended until beneficiaries can safely return home and can successfully reintegrate into their home communities.

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Washington granted TPS to tens of thousands of Salvadorans in 2001, following a 7.6 magnitude quake in El Salvador that killed 944 people and injured over 5,500. Rep. Bennie Thompson, ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, said it was "just the latest in a string of heartless, xenophobic actions from the Trump administration". The decision was heavily criticized by immigrant advocates who said it ignored violence in El Salvador, which has one of the world's highest murder rates.

The Trump administration has indicated for months that it believes the "temporary" in "temporary protected status" has been wrongly overlooked for too long. The economy is in part based on people working in the United States and other countries sending money back to family and loved ones.

"Congress has a responsibility to act in the best interest of our nation by legislating a permanent solution that allows current TPS holders to contribute fully without fear of deportation", said Ali Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum. The "temporary protected status", as it is known, lasts for about two years before needing to be renewed.

The U.S. created Temporary Protected Status in 1990 to provide a safe haven from countries affected by earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, war and other disasters, and it now shields almost 320,000 people from 10 countries. Critics say it has proved anything but temporary - with many beneficiaries staying years after the initial justification applies.

In November, Nielsen's predecessor, acting Secretary Elaine Duke, ended the protection for Haitians, requiring about 50,000 to leave or adjust their legal status by July 22, 2019, and for Nicaraguans, giving about 2,500 until January 5, 2019.

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