January 8, 2018
On Monday, January 8, the Trump administration announced that it would be ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for some 200,000 Salvadorans living in the United States. This decision comes just weeks after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ended the TPS program for recipients from Nicaragua and Haiti. Those from El Salvador living in the United States under TPS were admitted to the US in 2001 following a pair of deadly earthquakes that struck the country, completing upending the infrastructure of El Salvador. Since then, TPS has been extended to those from El Salvador 11 times by Democrats and Republicans alike as the infrastructure remained in recovery and incidences of crime and violence became threateningly prevalent.
In spite of pleas from the Salvadoran government to allow its citizens to remain in the US under TPS, DHS is ending the program after finding that the “original conditions of the 2001 earthquake no longer exist in the country,” according to the New York Times. TPS will effectively end for the Salvadoran population in September of 2019.
Ending TPS for the Salvadoran community is inherently counterintuitive to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” mantra, for kicking these upstanding individuals out of the United States is going to do the country more harm than good, particularly when viewed from an economic lens. According to a study done by the Center for Migration Studies (CMS), 88% of Salvadorans living in the United States participate in the workforce (compared to 63% of the American population). Forcibly removing this significant portion of the US labor force is going negatively impact the country’s economy, especially in industries (e.g., construction, restaurant/ food services, landscaping) and states (e.g., California, Texas, Florida, New York, Virginia, and Maryland) where Salvadorans have greater representation.
Putting politics and partisanship aside, it is equally important to view this particular issue within immigration through a humanistic lens. At our core, Salvadorans, Americans, and people from any country are simply that: people. The people who came here from El Salvador to escape the carnage of natural disaster, economic strife, and gang violence are here to make a better life for themselves, their families, and to contribute to a land and economy that they are grateful to be a part of. In the near 17 years that have passed since Salvadorans were granted TPS in the US, 61% had at least one U.S.-born child (according to the same CMS study linked above). This means that these children have never lived, and in many cases, never been to El Salvador, are American citizens, and only know to call America “home.” Ending TPS will force the parents of these children to make the heart-wrenching decision to bring their children to a dangerous and unfamiliar land for the sake of family preservation, or split up the family so that the children can maintain the way of life they have become accustomed to in America.
Congress is responding to this decision with a bill that would allow Salvadorans here under TPS to apply for permanent residency. The bill has been introduced by Rep. Mike Cauffman (R-CO), who considers himself a centrist on immigration issues. A similar bill, named the ESPERER Act, sponsored by Rep. Carols Curbelo (R-FL), would allow Haitians and Nicaraguans, in addition to Salvadorans, to apply for permanent residency, according to Countable. These pieces of legislation, drafted by GOP lawmakers, demonstrates that members of Congress from both sides of the aisle are looking to come together in support of these communities for the betterment of the US and everyone living and working in a country founded on the principles of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
- Act with America’s Voice: America’s Voice is a progressive immigration reform nonprofit that advocates for full and equal rights of all immigrants. The organization runs numerous campaigns, maps incidents of hate against people of color, and assists with voter registration, amongst other activities essential to promoting equity for immigrant lives in the United States. You can make a contribution to America’s Voice here.
- Support the Center for Migration Studies: The Center for Migration Studies is a think-tank and educational institute devoted to the study of international migration, to the promotion of understanding between immigrants and receiving communities, and to public policies that safeguard the dignity and rights of migrants, refugees and newcomers. You can support the institute through purchasing its publications or attending an event.
- Stay Up to Date with the National Immigration Forum: The National Immigration Forum is a DC-based nonprofit that leads the nation in constructive conversation and advocacy for the value of immigrants and immigration. The Forum is currently running a program called Immigration 2020, a multi-constituency effort to ensure that new Americans have the opportunities, skills, and status they need to contribute to the United States and realize their maximum potential. Join the organization’s email list to stay up date on all things related to immigration policy.
This brief was compiled by Allie Blum. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.