By John Lynds
After the Trump Administration decided to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the over 200,000 Salvadorans living in East Boston and across the country, the chorus of those opposed to the plan was immediate and loud.
Elected officials like Rep. Adrian Madaro swifty condemned the move.
“The Trump administration’s continued attacks on legal residents living under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is shameful and misguided,” said Madaro last week. “This announcement regarding TPS holders from El Salvador confirms this administration’s intentions to end humanitarian aid for thousands of our neighbors in East Boston. For many of these folks, East Boston has been home for years. They own small businesses and homes, their children are US citizens, and they are contributing, tax-paying members of our community. This decision will not only tear families apart, it will also disrupt our local economy.”
Following President Trump’s announcement Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced her determination that termination of TPS designation for El Salvador was required pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act. However, to allow for an orderly transition Nielsen has determined to delay Trump’s termination of the program for Salvadorans for 18 months. The designation will terminate on Sept. 9, 2019.
“The 18 months will also provide time for El Salvador to prepare for the return and reintegration of its citizens,” said Nielsen. “During this timeframe, DHS will work with the Department of State and the Government of El Salvador to help educate relevant stakeholders and facilitate an orderly transition. In addition to materials posted online, DHS components will participate in outreach activities such as teleconferences, town halls and roundtables to ensure that affected populations have a full and accurate understanding of their rights and obligations.”
Salvadorans with TPS in Eastie will be required to re-register for TPS and apply for Employment Authorization Documents in order to legally work in the United States until the termination of El Salvador’s TPS designation becomes effective Sept. 9, 2019.
Through the Consulate General of El Salvador’s office in Eastie, the administration of President Salvador Sánchez Cerén released a statement on the 8-month extension and considers the decision as a recognition of the contributions Salvadorans have made here and across the U.S. as an important labor force as well as making relevant contributions in other areas such as the economy and cultural advancements.
However, the East Boston Ecumenical Community Council (EBECC), founded in 1978 with the mission of promoting racial harmony and the advancement of Latino immigrants here, felt the extension did not go far enough.
EBEC CEO Frank Ramirez said the ending of TPS is just another example of the administration’s continued anti-immigrant crusade, having ended similar protections for Nicaraguan and Haitian TPS beneficiaries in November despite the precarious conditions still facing these countries.
“The ending of protection for Salvadorans, Haitians and Nicaraguans is an injury not only to TPS holders but to thousands of US citizens connected to these TPS holders by marriage, blood, and economic investment in this country. Evidently the Trump Administration is ignorant of El Salvador’s current gang violence and the adverse effect of so many people being sent home,” said Ramirez. “It’s well documented that El Salvador’s homicide rate was 108 per 100,000 people in 2015. This constitute another assault on the United States’ tradition of caring and humanitarianism toward immigrants. We are outraged with this arbitrary decision.”
Ramirez said his group has a responsibility to its constituents to seek solutions to their predicament as TPS immigrants.
“We will not sit idly by, we will work with qualified staff and lawyers to analyze the cases to determine who could opt for other resources to legalize their permanence in the United
States,” he said.
El Salvador was designated by the U.S. government for TPS in 2001 after being struck by a series of earthquakes, and today represents one of the three countries with the largest share of TPS holders.
There are an estimated 195,000 Salvadoran TPS holders living in the United States.
Ramirez added that the decision to end TPS for El Salvador is not only economically foolish, but it will also upend the lives of hundreds of thousands of mixed-status families.
Ramirez said it is estimated that Salvadoran TPS holders, alone, are parents to 192,000 U.S.-citizen children and the call to end TPS is another move to tear families apart.
UnidosUS, a nationwide organization that partners with local affiliates like the EBECC to promote Latino involvement in civil rights, civic engagement and immigration issues, also condemned ending TPS.
Unidos US President and CEO Janet Murguía said TPS Salvadorans in Eastie are taxpayers and employers.
“They are homeowners, good neighbors and parents of American children,” said Murguia. “Yet, despite a chorus of opposition from elected officials and business, religious, civil rights and community leaders around the nation and around the globe, the Department of Homeland Security has moved forward with a decision that does nothing more than harm our country, our allies, and endanger the lives of individuals who are making measurable contributions to this country. We urge Congress to act and push forward a legislative solution to right this wrong.”