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Trump Admin to End Immigration Protection for 200K Salvadorans

Trump Admin to End Immigration Protection for 200K Salvadorans

The Trump administration will not extend the Temporary Protected Status program, which has allowed almost 200,000 Salvadorans to stay in the USA legally, according to a report Monday.

This report presents detailed statistical information on the US Temporary Protected Status (TPS) populations from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti.

Immigrant-rights advocates had heatedly fought to keep the Salvadorans here, arguing many of them have put down roots, including having some 200,000 children who, by dint of being born on USA soil, are already citizens.

Oscar Chacón, executive director of Alianza Americas, a network of Latin American and Caribbean immigrant groups in the United States, said the decision puts the Salvadorans in danger.

The Trump administration has already discontinued the TPS for some 5,000 Nicaraguans and nearly 60,000 Haitians, who were likewise allowed to stay in the United States due to natural disasters in their native countries.

Nielsen said the fact that over 39,000 Salvadorans have been repatriated over the past two years shows that "the temporary inability of El Salvador to adequately return their nationals after the natural disaster has been addressed". Advocates were quick to urge Congress to come up with a solution that allows current TPS holders a pathway to continued legal status in this country.

Two U.S. officials discussed the decision on condition of anonymity with The Associated Press because they were not authorized to speak publicly ahead of the announcement.

The Department of Homeland Security is set to make a formal announcement on the decision later Monday.

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Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said on Monday that damage inflicted by a 2001 quake in the Central American country didn't justify another temporary extension.

The action also produces a serious challenge for El Salvador, a country of 6.2 million people whose economy counts on money sent by wage earners in the U.S. Over the past decade, growing numbers of Salvadorans - many coming as families or unaccompanied children - have entered the United States illegally through Mexico, fleeing violence and poverty. The "temporary protected status", as it is known, lasts for about two years before needing to be renewed. That is more than three times the number of people in the next largest group with the status, Hondurans.

The U.S. created Temporary Protected Status in 1990 to provide safe havens for people from countries affected by earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, war and other disasters, and it now shields almost 320,000 people from 10 countries.

Nielsen said last week that short-term extensions are not the answer. The temporary measure, extended every 18 months since, allowed them to stay in the US.

In November, Nielsen's predecessor, acting Secretary Elaine Duke, ended the protection for Haitians, requiring about 50,000 to leave or adjust their legal status by July 22, 2019, and for Nicaraguans, giving about 2,500 until January 5, 2019.

The pending deadline marks the first major immigration decision that will fall to Nielsen, who has thus far pledged to carry on the legacy of her predecessor and former boss, John Kelly, who is now White House chief of staff.

The administration has been curtailing participation in the designation known as Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, over the past year, with Haitians and Nicaraguans most recently being told they will no longer be eligible. Other countries covered are Nepal, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

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