Today, the Department of Homeland Security announced the termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for roughly 200,000 El Salvadorans with strong and deep ties to the United States. According to research at the Center for Migration Studies, 88 percent of Salvadoran TPS beneficiaries work, large numbers are homeowners, they have 192,700 US citizen children, and have lived in the United States (on average) for 21 years. As the government of El Salvador has repeatedly insisted, the return of 200,000 nationals will be destabilizing: El Salvador cannot ensure their safe and productive return, and can ill-afford to lose the monies they remit home.
While the Trump administration professes that it “welcomes lawful immigrants,” it continues to eviscerate legal immigration programs and marginalize immigrant families. Over the last four months, the administration has set a record low refugee resettlement ceiling (and refugee admissions have slowed to a trickle). It has also dismantled the Central American Minors (CAM) program which allowed refugee children from the Northern Triangle states to join their legally present parents in the United States. And it terminated TPS for nationals from Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan. These decisions came on the heels of its decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, without any substitute in place, based on exaggerated and uncharacteristic concerns over executive overreach. The president has also committed to reducing family-based immigration (which administration officials call “chain migration’) and eliminating the diversity visa program. He has characterized both these programs as a menace to the nation’s security. Attacks on refugee and legal migration programs have become a defining characteristic of this administration.
Today’s decision creates many losers, and no winners. The losers include the TPS recipients themselves, their employers, their US citizen children, their US communities, El Salvador, and the US economy. The rule of law is another loser as the decision will relegate hard working legal immigrants into persons without status and force TPS beneficiaries and their US children to return to violence-plagued communities without good economic prospects. The decision will also lead to increased illegal migration from El Salvador to the United States, as deportees seek to join family members in the US. We call upon Congress to provide permanent legal status to this population and other nationalities which have had their TPS eligibility rescinded.