Over 250,000 immigrants from El Salvador received devastating news in January: their temporary protected status (T.P.S.) in the United States will end in September of 2019. Temporary doesn’t seem to be the right word to describe the protection that these immigrants have received; in reality, the protection offered to them has been at the very least semi-permanent. These Salvadorans will surely seek for a way to stay in the country legally as most have already been here for more than 15 years after seeking refuge from natural disasters.. Some of them barely know what El Salvador is like. The President and his administration have made a mistake, now Congress is the only hope. It must pass a law that will save the Salvadorans from having to return to one of the most dangerous countries in the world.
T.P.S. was originally granted to Salvadoran refugees in the wake of multiple devastating earthquakes in 2001. Hundreds of thousands of residents fled north to Mexico and the U.S., which led President Bush to grant them temporary protected status. He and President Obama both extended the protections many times, citing ongoing security issues in El Salvador.
President Trump has taken a different approach than his predecessors. He and his administration believe that since the original reasons for T.P.S. no longer exist, that the protections are no longer appropriate. Following the announcement about the administration’s intent to end T.P.S. privileges, administration officials explained that conditions have improved in El Salvador since the natural disasters. Improvements have occurred in large part because of foreign aid, such as the more than $46 million that was contributed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) specifically to help people impacted by the earthquakes. Since 2001, more than $1 billion has been donated to El Salvador for various purposes. However, the foreign aid has not done enough to erase the need that these refugees have for protection. El Salvador is yet become a sustainable or secure place to live.
El Salvador’s biggest problem is gang-related violence. Known as the murder capital of the world, El Salvador is home to two of the most notorious gangs, MS-13 and Barrio 18. As if globally-renowned gangs weren’t enough, the Salvadoran police force has also become a source of fear for many citizens. Young Salvadorans are just as worried about being hurt by the police—who might think they are gang-members when they really aren’t—as they are about being hurt by a gang member. (Sounds ominously similar to what has happened in the Philippines, doesn’t it?) More than likely, the majority of Salvadorans living in the U.S. don’t want to return to their native land as it currently exists. Thus, rather than discuss whether or not T.P.S. should have been extended, we should seek to support a separate law granting them permanent residence in the U.S. This will bring the Salvadorans peace of mind about their future.
Many of these people have been in the U.S. for most of their lives, and are well established with families and jobs. They are good members of our society. Not only have the Salvadoran immigrants contributed to the U.S. economy by providing needed labor, but even more importantly, they are an integral part of the economy in El Salvador. According to the Heritage Foundation, one of the leading research institutions in the U.S., remittances (income sent home from foreign nations) account for almost 20 percent of El Salvador’s Gross Domestic Product. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that El Salvador’s leader, President Sanchez, asked President Trump to extend T.P.S. for the Salvadoran refugees. Most people in El Salvador believe that receiving over 200,000 deportees would hurt their economy; the mayor of San Salvador (capital of El Salvador) went so far as to say that El Salvador can’t even provide for the people residing there now. How will they provide for many, many more? Deporting the Salvadorans isn’t fair to them or to the people currently in El Salvador.
Thankfully, a reasonable solution is available. Four representatives of Congress from Florida have introduced a bill that would save the Salvadorans from potential deportation. Not only would the proposed bill provide for permanent legal residency for Salvadorans previously protected by T.P.S., but also for immigrants in similar situations from Honduras, Haiti, and Nicaragua. However, the bill has yet to make its way through either legislative chamber, and therefore has many obstacles to its passage. This bipartisan initiative should receive our support because it can provide the Salvadorans with a bright future and because it is a fair solution to their plight.
“We must hope that Congress passes a law that will save the Salvadorans from having to return to one of the most dangerous countries in the world.”
Heritage Foundation: https://www.heritage.org/index/country/elsalvador
Proposed Legislation: https://curbelo.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=1723
Extrajudicial Police Issues: https://theintercept.com/2018/01/12/el-salvador-tps-trump-gang-violence/?comments=1
One of the most dangerous places on earth: https://theintercept.com/2018/01/08/el-salvador-immigration-tps-trump/
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