Close to 200,000 individuals from El Salvador who have lived in the U.S. for up to 21 years will lose their immigration protection status as the Trump administration announced today that the TPS (Temporary Protection Status) program will be eliminated.
The administration already rescinded the TPS program protecting 2,550 Nicaraguans and 45,000 Haitians last year. The Salvadorans are the largest national group protected by TPS. It is expected that the Trump administration will also rescind the program for Hondurans.
As we reported in Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund, the Department of Homeland Security can grant TPS to individuals from a country that suffers the effects of natural disasters, wars or other temporary situations when its government is too weak and unable to handle the return of their nationals. TPS was granted to Salvadorans after two earthquakes destroyed El Salvador in 2001.
This protection includes, first and foremost, that the individuals cannot be detained and removed from the U.S. They can obtain an Employment Authorization Document and may be granted travel authorization.
TPS does not provide a permanent legal status, a path to citizenship, or other migration benefits. The protections granted by TPS are similar to those of the DACA program.
It is important to note that the set of countries that had been granted TPS in the past have weak economies, and the potential return of thousands of individuals will increase the stress on their fragile systems.
The Trump administration is giving Salvadorans until September 2019 to organize their departure or risk becoming part of the undocumented population subjected to detention and deportation.
Unfortunately, these recent decisions to eliminate TPS impact not only individuals from the above-mentioned countries, but also American citizens: the sons, daughters, spouses or other relatives of the TPS beneficiaries, who will be equally affected by this announcement.