Washington, D.C. — On January 8, the Washington Post reported that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will announce an end to Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Salvadorans, meaning approximately 200,000 people, many of whom have resided in the United States since becoming eligible for TPS in 2001, will have until September 2019 to either willingly leave the United States, obtain U.S.legal permanent residency by some other means, or else face deportation. Beneficiaries of the TPS program can legally reside and work in the United States, should the U.S. government determine they are unable to safely return to their home country because of war or natural disasters. The Trump administration’s decision not to renew the program for the largest group of TPS beneficiaries in the United States, despite urging by Republicans, Democrats, religious and other social leaders to do otherwise, will have a massive humanitarian and economic impact, according to human rights advocacy group the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).
“This is going to needlessly tear families apart and break up a community that has spent decades raising children, paying taxes and making positive contributions to U.S. society,” said Geoff Thale,Vice President of Programs at the WOLA. “What these long-term residents of the United States needed is a pathway to citizenship. Instead, under Trump, they will be forced to turn their lives upside down and drag their children back to one of the most violent countries in the world.”
According to a study published by the University of Kansas in May 2017, over half of TPS holders from El Salvador and Honduras have lived in the United States for twenty years. The study also found that the majority of these individuals have started families, joined the labor force, furthered their education, purchased a home, become active in their communities, paid income taxes and contributed to Social Security, and contributed to the country in many other ways.
The Trump administration previously ended TPS for Haitians and Nicaraguans in November 2017, affecting about 50,000 Haitians and some 2,500 Nicaraguans. A decision on the 61,000 Honduran recipients of TPS is expected before May 4, 2018.
“Ending TPS is senseless and inhumane policy. We are forcing people to go back to poor and violent countries that are in no condition to absorb them. This could very well spark another wave of migration from Central America,” said Thale.
See more of WOLA’s analysis on the possible ramifications of ending TPS for Central American and Haitian beneficiaries here.