WASHINGTON—The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday that the administration will be ending temporary protected status for nearly 250,000 El Salvadorians living in the U.S., a reversal of a policy initially enacted in 2001.
The protected status, which was initially implemented following massive twin earthquakes in El Salvador but also protected those who fled violent civil war in the previous two decades, will end in September of 2019.
“The decision to terminate TPS for El Salvador was made after a review of the disaster-related conditions upon which the country’s original designation was based and an assessment of whether those originating conditions continue to exist as required by statute,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement. “Based on careful consideration of available information, including recommendations received as part of an inter-agency consultation process, the Secretary determined that the original conditions caused by the 2001 earthquakes no longer exist. Thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated.”
The Department said that the 18-month delay will “allow for an orderly transition.”
The decision was met with scorn from immigration advocates.
“The majority has lived here for over 20 years; they have built families. Nearly 200,000 U.S. citizen children rely on one or more parents with TPS,” Royce Murray, Policy Director, American Immigration Council, said in a conference call with reporters hosted by the orgnization America’s Voice. “And let’s not forget: these holders are regularly vetted by the government and do not present any public safety concerns. They have been vetted 11 times since they have been granted status.”
Cristian Chavez Guevara, a 37-year old TPS recipient, expressed fear that the decision could put him and his family in danger if they are required to return to El Salvador.
“The economic situation in El Salvador is very bad. Organized crime controls the streets and neighborhoods,” Guevara said. “As TPS holders, we help fill economic needs for our families back in El Salvador. But, all of our dreams and hopes ended today.”