This week, the Trump administration announced it was ending protections for about 200,000 Salvadorans who have lived in the United States since at least 2001. Here's what you need to know:
2. Why did the Obama administration extend it? Why wasn’t this done earlier?
Following a pair of 2001 earthquakes in El Salvador, TPS protections were extended to eligible Salvadorans who were present in the United States at that time. The Obama administration, like previous administrations, renewed the TPS designation every 18 months. Immigrant advocate groups, business leaders and lawmakers from districts with large numbers of immigrants pushed for the TPS extensions.
3. What will happen to the 200,000 Salvadorans whose status is revoked? What can they do now?
TPS protections for Salvadorans will expire on Sept. 9, 2019. After that time, their immigration status will revert to whatever it was before TPS was granted, so if the person was in the country illegally they would be eligible for deportation. The 200,000 Salvadorans have until then to obtain legal residency or leave the country.
Officials from DHS say that former TPS recipients will not be an “enforcement priority” for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but anyone in the country who lacks legal status can be taken into custody.
4. What is the current situation in El Salvador? What will Salvadorans be faced with if they are deported?
El Salvador has one of the world’s highest homicide rates, fueled by horrific gang violence, and it remains one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere. Both of these problems continue to drive illegal immigration from El Salvador to the United States. But Homeland Security officials note that the decision to renew the TPS designation should be made on the basis of its initial justification — in this case the 2001 earthquakes. They note that the United States has deported 39,000 people to El Salvador over the past two years, an indication, they say, that the country is capable of absorbing returnees.
5. Why is ending TPS an important keystone for the Trump administration?
Virtually every facet of the U.S. immigration system has come under review by the Trump administration. The president and his key advisers aim to reduce the number of foreigners living in the United States by cutting legal immigration and escalating efforts to deport those who arrived unlawfully. They view TPS as an example of an immigration program that has deviated from its original intent, and they repeatedly point to the fact that TPS has “temporary” in its name. They say it was never meant to be a path to long-term residency in the United States.