The Trump Administration will make a decision before Monday on the fate of over 200,000 Salvadorans who have been living in the United States since at least 2001. These Salvadorans has been in the United States under a form of provisional residency known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS). This status is usually granted to citizens of countries which have undergone extreme hardships—like war or a natural disaster.
The 200,000 Salvadorans are the largest group of TPS recipients in the United States. After two deadly earthquakes in 2001, the United States granted TPS status to citizens of El Salvador who were attempting to escape dangerous circumstances. For the TPS status of the Salvadorans to be extended, their reason for staying in the United States has to be justified on a regular basis. As recently as July 8, 2016, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stated that there “continues to be a substantial, but temporary, disruption of living conditions in El Salvador resulting from a series of earthquakes in 2001.”
This November, the DHS ended TPS protections for 60,000 Haitians who arrived in the United States after the 2010 earthquake. They were given an 18 month grace-period after their protections were ended. Many expect the DHS to come to the same decision for the Salvadorans.
On Thursday, a senior DHS official told the Washington Post that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has yet to make a decision but the department would have an announcement before Monday’s deadline. Both the White House and the Department of Homeland Security have made it clear that they plan to end TPS protections. If the Trump administration chooses to end the TPS status of the Salvadorans, they would be forced to find another way to obtain legal residency, remain in the country to risk deportation, or leave on their own accord.
While some Trump administration officials have said that the current uses of TPS protections have gone far beyond the “temporary,” immigration advocates say that sending the 200,000 Salvadorans back to El Salvador will destabilize a country which still has among the world’s highest rates of gang violence and homicide.