The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Monday that she has decided to terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for more than 200,000 Salvadoran nationals living in the United States — and El Salvador does not want to take them back.
DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced she is giving an 18-month extension to the protected immigrants to return to El Salvador who now must leave the U.S. by September 9, 2019. In a statement, DHS explained their decision:
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. 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.
Democrats immediately attacked the Trump administration for the decision, but they are not the only ones that are upset, as officials in El Salvador are worried it will be devastating to their country. The Washington Post reports:
If all TPS holders return or are deported, it will impose an enormous strain on a country of 6.2 million people where poverty is widespread and gang violence remains a serious problem.
Another major impact of the decision could be a decline in the amount of money that Salvadorans in the United States send home. Remittances now surpass $4.5 billion a year, accounting for about 17 percent of the country’s GDP, according to the World Bank, and ranking as its single greatest source of income.
“I see this time they’ve given us as positive, so that we can fight for another status, and I don't expect a massive deportation in the short term,” said Héctor Antonio Rodríguez, the head of El Salvador’s immigration agency. “They are not going to want to stay in El Salvador. They are going to try again to go by land into the U.S.”
The Post further notes that the "Salvadoran government has lobbied the Trump administration for months to find a solution that would allow these people to stay in the United States." El Salvador’s Foreign Ministry even tweeted about the issue, writing that their citizens "have become important members of their communities in the United States, and their contributions are key to the development of that nation."
Salvadoran officials held emergency meetings last May after they saw a sharp increase in violent criminals returning to El Salvador after the Trump administration ramped up deportations of MS-13 gang members from the U.S.
"This clearly affects El Salvador. We already have a climate of violence in the country that we are combating," said Héctor Antonio Rodríguez, the director of the country’s immigration agency. "If gang members return, of course this worries us."