Reckless Decision to End El Salvador TPS Endangers Lives of Over 200,000 People and Their Families

Today, the Trump Administration announced that it will eliminate work authorization and protection for nearly 200,000 people from El Salvador. This unconscionable decision will uproot their lives and expose them to extreme violence. For some, it could literally be a death sentence. It will also uproot the lives and undermine the economic security of their families, including an estimated 192,000 U.S. citizen children.

In 2001, El Salvador experienced a devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake, along with multiple aftershocks. Over 1,000 people died and 1.3 million were displaced. Following the quakes, the country fell into chaos. It’s experienced unprecedented gang violence, severe food and housing shortages, and more natural disasters.

Through the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program, 200,000 Salvadorans who can’t return to their country safely have built lives in the United States while contributing to our economy. TPS is a designation that provides work authorization and protection from deportation for individuals whose countries have experienced environmental disasters or epidemics, unsafe conditions due to armed conflicts, or other extraordinary conditions that prevent them from safely returning to their country of origin.

The Trump Administration’s announcement follows its release of immigration principles—the latest iteration of an indefensible enforcement strategy that includes construction of a border wall.

“This decision is part of a larger agenda by the Trump Administration to create fear and disrupt immigrant families and communities, which is not only cruel but deeply damaging to the United States’ future,” said Wendy Cervantes, senior policy analyst at CLASP. “Stripping Salvadoran TPS holders of their long-term, lawful status will expose them to extreme violence or force them into the shadows while undermining our national interest.

“Destroying immigrants’ lives and investing in a useless border wall is immoral and ineffectual. Instead, we should embrace immigrant families’ significant contributions and foster their children’s success.”

Salvadorans are, by far, the largest group of TPS holders. They have established strong ties and deep connections to their local communities, with 88 percent in the labor force and many living in the U.S. for most of their adult lives. More than half of Salvadoran TPS holders have resided in the U.S. for 20 years or more. They own businesses, have mortgages, pay taxes, and hold jobs across many industries.

With the elimination of TPS, children now face separation from their parents and economic insecurity. Children separated from their parents frequently show signs of trauma, including depression, anxiety, and difficulty in school.

“Today’s announcement is deeply disturbing, but Congress can still act to protect TPS holders and their families,” said Olivia Golden, executive director of CLASP. “Senator Chris Van Hollen’s Safe Environment from Countries Under Repression and in Emergency (SECURE) Act would provide a path to permanent residency and citizenship, enabling TPS holders and their families to remain in the country they call home as well as strengthen our economy and communities. We urge members to support this legislation.

“CLASP will continue to work with our allies to protect immigrant children and families whose safety and vitality are critical to our nation’s future.”