Immigrants who came to the U.S. from El Salvador in recent years under disaster-related Temporary Protected Status designations will lose that protection from deportation next year.
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced today the termination of the Temporary Protected Status designation for Salvadorans who came to the U.S. following earthquakes in El Salvador in 2001.
It will go into effect on Sept. 9, 2019, allowing 18 months for people to arrange for their departure or to seek an alternate route to legal immigration status.
Congress could also act by approving legislation to address people residing in the U.S. under the Temporary Protected Status designation.
More than 100 people rallied on Friday outside the Federal Building in San Francisco, calling for the renewal of the designation for people from El Salvador as well as Honduras, Nicaragua, Syria and Haiti.
Protest organizers said the loss of the status could force people to have to return to dangerous conditions in their former countries.
Department of Homeland Security officials said Nielsen determined that the original disaster conditions that prompted the designation for El Salvador no longer existed so the designation must be terminated.
The department cited “extensive outreach” to Salvadoran communities around the country, including “community forums on TPS, panel discussions with Salvadoran community organizers, stakeholder teleconferences, news releases to the Salvadoran community, meetings with Salvadoran government officials, meetings at local churches, and listening sessions.”
State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, was among politicians and immigrant rights advocates who opposed the move, which Wiener said will affect roughly a quarter-million Salvadoran refugees around the country:
“Donald Trump’s decision to deport a quarter million Salvadoran refugees is simply despicable. These American residents came here 20 years ago from El Salvador after a massive and destructive earthquake.”
“For 20 years, they have lived here, raised children, started businesses, paid taxes, and just lived their lives,” he said. “What on earth would motivate this president to revoke their status and kick them out of the country? This move is deeply inhumane and, frankly, un-American.”