Published: Mon, January 08, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

DHS weighs ending protections for Salvadoran immigrants

DHS weighs ending protections for Salvadoran immigrants

Without TPS, Salvadorans will become vulnerable to arrest and deportation.

The humanitarian programme, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), was granted after a series of earthquakes rocked the Central American country in 2001. Administration officials have said TPS is supposed to provide a temporary haven for victims, not a permanent status in the United States.

The Trump administration will end protections for certain nationals of El Salvador, a source familiar with the decision tells CNN, a move that could leave more than 200,000 immigrants who have lived in the USA more than 15 years without any legal status.

In September 2016, the Obama administration extended protections for 18 months, saying El Salvador suffered lingering harm from the 2001 earthquakes that killed more than 1,000 people and was temporarily unable to absorb such a large number of people.

Immigrant-rights advocates had heatedly fought to keep the Salvadorans here, arguing many of them have put down roots, including having some 200,000 children who, by dint of being born on US soil, are already citizens.

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A statement from the Department of Homeland Security was expected later on Monday.

One official said Salvadorans will have until September 2019 to leave the country or adjust their legal status. "Nielsen has told 200,000 of our friends, neighbors, and colleagues -people who sought safety in the United States and have had full permission to build lives here for almost 17 years - that they have 18 months to pack their bags and return to El Salvador, a country that is plagued by the highest homicide rate in Latin America, a 95 percent impunity rate, and escalating human rights abuses".

The decision is likely to please immigration hard-liners who argue the TPS program was never meant to provide long-term residency. Haitians have also been protected since a 2010 natural disaster. A six-month extension was recently granted to 57,000 Hondurans living in the United States with provisional residency, a decision made prior to Nielsen's arrival by then-Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke.

But Ms. Nielsen said she was abiding by the letter of the law, which only allows TPS to be granted when the home country is not able to handle the return of its own people.

Last year, Homeland Security announced an end to temporary protections for Nicaraguans and Haitians.

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