Immigrant rights advocates argue that it would be wrong for the U.S.to send Salvadorans back to a country with one of the worst homicide rates in the world, particularly when many have US citizen children who could be targets for gangs if they go with their parents.
-Around 200,000 Salvadorans allowed to live in the United States since 2001 after earthquakes in El Salvador must leave the country in 2019, USA officials said on Monday, marking the Trump administration's latest move to tighten immigration law enforcement.
The Salvadorans become the latest group of foreigners to lose what's known as Temporary Protected Status after spending years in the United States because of natural disaster in their home countries.
They have enjoyed special protection since earthquakes struck the Central American country in 2001, and many have established deep roots in the USA, starting families and businesses. 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. It said the 18-month delay would give Congress time to develop a legislative change if it chooses, while also giving Salvadorans and their government time to prepare. There are more than 260,000 Salvadoran immigrants with the status in the United States, including more than 36,000 in Texas, according to the Center for American Progress.
The Salvadoran immigrants who see their protected status expire will be forced to confront a complex web of federal immigration policy, and have very few options to remain in the United States. The Salvadorans were granted TPS after a pair of 2001 earthquakes slammed the country.
El Salvador is the fourth country whose citizens have lost Temporary Protected Status under President Donald Trump.
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.More news: At Least Two People Injured in Explosion in Stockholm, Sweden
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It also represents a serious challenge for El Salvador, a country of 6.2 million people whose economy depends on remittances from wage earners in the U.S. Over the last decade, growing numbers of Salvadorans - many coming as families or unaccompanied children - have entered the United States illegally through Mexico, fleeing violence and poverty.
The protection program has been recently criticized by Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, who said in an October 30 letter to the Department of Homeland Security that immigrants living in the US under TPS were taking "jobs that might otherwise be filled by one of the 7.1 million unemployed Americans".
"Allowing them to stay longer only undermines the integrity of the program and essentially makes the "temporary" protected status a front operation for backdoor permanent immigration", added Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA.
The country's top diplomat, Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez, said Monday's decision underscored a need for Congress to act before September 2019.
Administration officials have said TPS is supposed to provide a temporary haven for victims, not a permanent status in the US.
The pending deadline marks the first major immigration decision that will fall to Nielsen, who has thus far pledged to carry on the legacy of her predecessor and former boss, John Kelly, who is now White House chief of staff. Spagat reported from San Diego.