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Trump administration says 200,000 Salvadorans must leave US

JOE RAEDLE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP
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Department of Homeland Security announced that the immigrants' temporary protected status has expired

Time to go home.

That’s the message the Trump Administration has sent to people from El Salvador living in the United States since a pair of earthquakes in their country sent them to seek refuge in the U.S. in 2001.

Salvadorans are the latest group to get the bad news that protected status they have enjoyed for years is soon coming to an end.

Monday’s announcement affects nearly 200,000 people from the Central American nation living in the United States. They are the largest group of foreigners benefiting from temporary protected status, which shielded them from deportation if they had arrived in the United States illegally, the New York Times reported. The announcement, made by the Department of Homeland Security, was made just weeks after more than 45,000 Haitians, the second largest group, lost protections granted after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake. Nicaraguans lost their protections last year.

The Times said that immigrant advocates and the El Salvadoran government has lobbied the United States for an extension of the program, saying that conditions in El Salvador were still dire.

The program, known as T.P.S., was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. It provides temporary lawful status and work authorization to people already in the United States, whether they entered legally or not, from countries affected by armed conflict, natural disaster or other strife. El Salvador was one of the first countries in the program because of its civil war; that designation expired in 1994.

The administration is giving Salvadorans in the program until September 2019 to get ready to go home. It means a major change for people like Carlos Jiron, a Salvadoran who started a small contracting business and won bids for big jobs, including to paint federal buildings in the Washington area.

“We have built a life here,” Jiron told the Times. The 41-year-old lives with his wife and two U.S.-born children in a four-bedroom house they bought in Springfield, Va.

Catholic Relief Services said in a statement that ending TPS for Salvadorans will “tear families apart; negatively affect communities both here in the U.S. and in El Salvador that depend on TPS holders for economic support; and undercut the U.S.’ goal to reduce poverty, decrease irregular migration, and promote citizen security in the region.”

“From our experience working with the Catholic Church and other local partners in El Salvador, the Salvadoran government does not have adequate humanitarian capacity to receive, protect, or integrate back into society safely this many people,” said the statement.

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