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09 January 2018, 02:08 | Darnell Patrick
US ends protected status for 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants
In 2016, the Obama administration determined that conditions in El Salvador remained unsafe for the return of residents covered under the TPS program.
The approximately 262,000 Salvadorans that now have Temporary Protected Status (TPS) will have until September 9, 2019 to either change their immigration status, leave the US or face potential deportation.
The announcement that the administration will end temporary protected status, or TPS, for natives of El Salvador, comes after it did the same for about 50,000 Haitians and 2,500 Nicaraguans, and hinted it may soon eliminate protections for about 57,000 Hondurans.
The statement noted that the administration will delay the TPS termination 18 months to allow Congress time to "craft a potential legislative solution". Congressional Research Service puts the number of Salvadoran TPS recipients at about 260,000, but other experts say it is closer to 200,000 because some have gotten other immigration relief or left the country.
Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Monday that damage inflicted by a 2001 natural disaster in the Central American country didn't justify another temporary extension. That time will allow individuals who have lived under the status to either seek other means of staying in the U.S. or prepare to leave.
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Critics immediately slammed the decision. It does not necessitate that applicants be legal immigrants to the United States.
"The end of TPS for El Salvador is a devastating betrayal for thousands of families who arrived at the United States seeking safety as well as their US citizen children".
In ending the protections for other groups, the Homeland Security Department has urged outraged lawmakers to enact legislation rather than continue to force the secretary to make the decisions. "Nielsen has told 200,000 of our friends, neighbors, and colleagues -people who sought safety in the United States and have had full permission to build lives here for almost 17 years - that they have 18 months to pack their bags and return to El Salvador, a country that is plagued by the highest homicide rate in Latin America, a 95 percent impunity rate, and escalating human rights abuses". "Since 2001, these people have established themselves in the United States, making countless contributions to our society and our local communities".
The issue will now be kicked to Congress. Senate negotiators are discussing potentially including a deal to end the diversity lottery, which is a top target of President Donald Trump, in exchange for some resolution on TPS, according to Republican Arizona Sen.
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