TPS Ends for Salvadorans

January 16, 2018 11:31 pm
by David Jakeman

The Trump administration is starting the new year by continuing its policy of upending the immigration law status quo. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen announced on January 8, 2018 that Temporary Protected Status is ending for Salvadoran nationals. The program’s termination has been delayed for 18 months, until September 9, 2019.1

Controversial Termination of TPS for Salvadorans

Opponents of the decision point to the fact that El Salvador is still a very difficult place to live, very violent and unstable. It’s no secret that people have been fleeing horrific gang violence for years, as well as crushing poverty and uncertain futures. The economy is the slowest growing in Central America. Despite all this objections, the Department of Homeland Security determined that the original conditions that prompted the US government to extend TPS to El Salvador – the 2001 earthquake – no longer exist, so the status must be terminated.

This latest announcement follows on the heels of similar announcements in 2017, ending the program for Haiti, Sudan, and Nicaragua. However, ending the program for El Salvador will have far more penetrating effects for the US economy, since about 200,000 Salvadorans have TPS. This number is quadruple the next largest group, the Haitians. When you stop to consider how many TPS holders have children or are employed, it starts to become clear that the ramifications of ending TPS for El Salvador are huge and hard to fathom.

Hard Working TPS Holders

As journalists have talked to TPS holders and their employers about the potential effects of the Trump administration’s decision, it becomes clear that big changes in the workforce are afoot. One construction company involved in reconstruction in Houston after the recent hurricane employs 29 TPS holders. A flower shop in the northeast, in an interview with the New York Times, stated that fifty percent of its employees had TPS.2 They are far from alone. It’s estimated that from 88 to 95 percent of Salvadorans with TPS are employed. The termination of TPS for Salvadorans will have a noticeable impact on the US economy.

It’s not only the US economy that will be affected. Many Salvadorans send remittances to loved ones back home, totalling $4.6 billion, which is 17 percent of the Salvadoran economy. While not all this money comes from TPS holders, they certainly contribute a substantial percentage.

A Possible Lifeline for TPS Holders

The recent decision is certainly unsettling news for TPS holders and their families. Some agonizing decisions lie ahead. As families make decisions, they should see what other immigration options are available. Decisions by the Sixth and Ninth Circuits have opened a path for TPS holders who live in their districts to qualify for green cards, including the states of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.

Talk to an immigration lawyer in Portland or whatever city you live in to see if you might qualify for a green card through TPS. The court rulings affect anyone who lives in their vicinity, so even if you don’t currently live in an eligible state, you might even think about moving to a state where you could apply. It’s not a guarantee of success, but it’s certainly worth a shot to keep your family together.

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