Trump administration ending protections for more than 200,000 Salvadorans in U.S

Trump administration ending protections for more than 200,000 Salvadorans in U.S., but giving time for a transition

About 262,000 Salvadorans living in the U.S. will lose the temporary legal status that many have enjoyed for almost two decades, the Trump administration announced on Monday.

The Department of Homeland Security's decision, which has been widely anticipated with deep anxiety in Salvadoran communities, said immigrants covered by "temporary protected status" will have until Sept. 9, 2019, to arrange a return or, in some cases, to apply for alternative legal means of staying in the U.S. The population covered by the temporary status includes nearly 30,000 people in the Los Angeles region.

Administration officials said conditions in El Salvador have improved markedly since 2001, when the Bush administration first made the special protections available in the wake of two earthquakes that devastated the small Central American country.

"Schools and hospitals damaged by the earthquakes have been reconstructed and repaired, homes have been rebuilt, and money has been provided for water and sanitation and to repair earthquake-damaged roads and other infrastructure. The substantial disruption of living conditions caused by the earthquake no longer exist," Homeland Security officials said in a statement.

The 18-month lead time will give the Salvadorans time to pursue another means of legally staying in the U.S. — or to allow Congress to pass a law allowing them to stay, officials said.

"Only Congress can legislate a permanent solution for this," said one official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.

For years, El Salvador has been racked by brutal gang violence, including from the MS-13 gang that has gained a significant presence in the U.S. But Kirstjen Nielsen, Homeland Security secretary, decided that under the law she could only consider the original conditions that led to the granting of temporary status — the damage from the earthquakes 17 years ago.

"Since then, anything else doesn't really apply, including violence on the ground," the official who briefed reporters said.

Advocates for the immigrants immediately protested, calling the decision needlessly cruel and a blow to the economies of both El Salvador and the U.S.

In the nearly two decades during which they have been able to live and work legally in the U.S., Salvadorans with protected status have built careers and opened businesses, and workers now play a significant role in industries like construction and housekeeping. The economy of El Salvador also is dependent on money sent back to families from abroad — $4.5 billion last year.

"The United States has yet again turned its back on its promise to provide refuge for those who face violence and persecution in their home countries," said Oscar Chacón, executive director of Alianza Americas, a network of immigrant rights groups.

"Our government is complicit in breaking up families—nearly 275,000 U.S.-born children have a parent" who has temporary legal status, he said. Studies have estimated that Salvadorans with temporary status have nearly 200,000 children who are U.S. citizens.

01/08/2018 | US Immigration News
Full Note |By: latimes

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