The Salvadorans, who were granted temporary permits to live and work in the US after a series of deadly earthquakes, could be deported if they don't leave the U.S.by September 9, 2019, said two senior administration officials who spoke to reporters Monday on condition of anonymity.
But Homeland Security officials characterized the decision by Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in narrower legal terms: as a recognition that conditions in El Salvador had improved enough since the earthquakes to make the TPS designation no longer warranted.
"The 18-month delayed termination will allow Congress time to craft a potential legislative solution", DHS said. "The personal safety of individuals, most of whom have lived in the United States for over 20 years [and] who likely would be targeted by gangs as people who would likely have resources, their personal safety is at real risk".
In November 2017, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, announced that about 2,000 protected Nicaraguans who have Temporary Protected Status must leave or seek another form of legal residency.
She explained that El Salvador has received significant worldwide aid and that much of the country's infrastructure is rebuilt. There are more than 260,000 Salvadoran immigrants with the status in the United States, including more than 36,000 in Texas, according to the Center for American Progress. If forced to leave the country, they could face grave danger in El Salvador.
Trump administration officials have repeatedly said they viewed the TPS program as an example of American immigration policy gone awry, noting that when Congress created the designation in 1990, its goal was to provide "temporary" protection from deportation following a natural disaster, armed conflict or other calamity.
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When asked whether the move would result in USA customs officials targeting Salvadorans who try to remain in the US without documentation after September of 2019, an administration official on a briefing phone call said that the agency's top priority remains the deportation of criminals and people deemed risky to society. There are almost 440,000 beneficiaries from the 10 countries, including 263,000 from El Salvador, but many have obtained legal status other ways.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., said he urged the Trump administration to "reconsider" the TPS decision.
There were 262,500 people, mostly adults, under TPS across the United States as of October 2017, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that administers the TPS program. It was expected that the morning of Monday, January 8, the current administration announced if the Temporary Protected Status, also called "TPS, was going to be renewed or canceled".
"Damaged schools and hospitals have been reconstructed and repaired, homes have been rebuilt", a senior Homeland Security official said. They accused the administration of not only potentially separating thousands of parents from their children, but also forcing the Salvadorans to return to a county that's been considered one of the most violent in the world for several years. "It is incredibly shortsighted and undermines our interest in a stable Central America".
"By returning TPS recipients to El Salvador, the United States could be sending people to their deaths".