Tue | Jun 19, 2018

US ending special protections for Salvadoran immigrants

Published:Tuesday | January 9, 2018 | 12:00 AM
President Donald Trump, accompanied by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen (right) speaks during a meeting with Republican Senators on immigration in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington.

WASHINGTON (AP):

The Trump administration said yesterday it is ending special protections for Salvadoran immigrants, an action that could force nearly 200,000 to leave the United States by September 2019 or face deportation.

El Salvador is the fourth country whose citizens have lost Temporary Protected Status under President Donald Trump. Salvadorans have been, by far, the largest beneficiaries of the programme, which provides humanitarian relief for foreigners whose countries are hit with natural disasters or other strife.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen's decision, while not surprising, will send shivers through parts of Washington, Los Angeles, New York, Houston and other metropolitan areas that are home to large numbers of Salvadorans. They have enjoyed special protection since earthquakes struck the Central American country in 2001, and many have established deep roots in the US, starting families and businesses.

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 US 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.

In September 2016, the Obama administration extended protections for 18 months, saying El Salvador suffered lingering harm from the 2001 earthquakes that killed more than 1,000 people and was temporarily unable to absorb such a large number of returning people.

Nielsen, who faced a yesterday deadline for a decision, determined that El Salvador has received significant international aid to recover from the earthquake and that homes, schools and hospitals there have been rebuilt. Salvadorans will have until September 9, 2019, to leave the country or adjust their legal status.

AP