On January 8, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) announced that it is ending the designation of Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) for El Salvador. Nationwide, there are approximately 263, 500 Salvadorans with TPS currently. The Trump administration has taken away that protection, but it is giving Salvadorans until September 9, 2019 to leave the United States or to find another immigration status. About 193,000 U.S. Citizen children have at least one parent who is a Salvadoran TPS holder. These young citizens now face the terrifying choice of being either separated from their parents or forced to leave the only country they have ever known to face risk of death, persecution, and torture in El Salvador.
Despite the fact that there is a current travel warning for El Salvador from the .U.S. State Department that remains in effect that warns United States Citizens and others not to travel to El Salvador “due to the high rates of crime and violence”; DHS ended protections for El Salvador anyway. DHS’s justification is that the program was intended to be temporary and that the conditions for which the protection was granted back in 2001 no longer exist.
President George W. Bush first designated Salvadorans as eligible for TPS in 2001, and the Department of Homeland Security under both Bush and Obama repeatedly extended El Salvador’s TPS designation in recognition of persisting insecurity. The need for protection continues to the present day. Dangerous conditions in El Salvador, the world’s most violent country, have driven tens of thousands of Salvadorans to flee north to seek asylum in recent years. Widespread gang- and gender-based violence plague the entire country of El Salvador, as the U.S. Department of State recently acknowledged in their 2016 Human Rights Report and in their aforementioned travel warning.
It would be unconscionable to return hundreds of thousands of longstanding U.S. residents to a country where violence has fueled a major refugee crisis. Salvadoran TPS holders have laid down deep roots in the United States, creating close community and family ties. Salvadoran TPS holders are also workers, business owners, and U.S. taxpayers who have made invaluable contributions to our economy. Deporting them would cost the United States more than $1.8 billion and exacerbate insecurity in El Salvador by eliminating key remittances that keep many families and communities afloat. The Salvadoran government has made clear that their country is not equipped to absorb Salvadoran TPS holders, and the deleterious impacts of mass deportations will likely only drive more Salvadorans to flee north.