Trump officials end immigration protection for 260K Salvadorans

The Trump administration on Monday ended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 262,500 immigrants from El Salvador.

The move will force the Salvadorans, who’ve been in the United States since at least 2001, to either obtain a different legal status in the United States or leave the country by Sept. 9, 2019.

TPS status was awarded to El Salvador in 2001 after two devastating earthquakes ravaged the country. The status allowed for hundreds of thousands of Salvadoran civil war refugees who were in the United States legally or illegally to remain and work stateside.

Decision about whether to renew or cancel TPS designations are made by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, with input from the State Department.

Senior administration officials said an “interagency review process” considered the conditions in El Salvador and its ability to take back its citizens in the decision.

El Salvador is one of the most dangerous countries in the world, host to persistent gang-based violence despite government efforts to quell criminal groups like MS-13.

It’s also one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere, with a per-capital GDP of around $4,200, despite consistent growth since the 1990s.

TPS benefits are awarded to foreign citizens residing in the United States whose home countries undergo devastating natural or man-made disasters, making a return dangerous or unsustainable.

Previous Democratic and Republican administrations routinely renewed TPS country designations for the maximum 18-month period, based on a holistic assessment of countries’ ability to re-absorb their emigrants.

Under President Trump, DHS has moved to a stricter interpretation of TPS statute, where only conditions directly related to the original disaster — in El Salvador’s case, the two earthquakes — are taken into account.

“Following the 2001 earthquakes, El Salvador received millions of dollars in international aid,” said a senior administration official. “Accordingly, many reconstruction projects have been completed.”

Other TPS designations up for renewal under Trump have also been terminated, including for Sudan, Haiti and Nicaragua. The Honduran designation was allowed to automatically renew for the minimum six months by former DHS Secretary Elaine Duke.

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