President Donald Trump’s plan to end protections for thousands of Salvadorans who have been living in the country for the last 17 years has enraged immigrants and advocates in New York.
The United States will end the Salvadorans’ temporary protected status (TPS) on Sept. 9, 2019, giving them 20 months to leave or seek lawful residency. El Salvador will have the same amount of time to prepare for their return, officials said. The status was granted in the wake of two devastating 2001 earthquakes in El Salvador that left hundreds of thousands in the country homeless.
Anu Joshi, director of immigration policy for the New York Immigration Coalition, said there are over 16,000 Salvadoran TPS recipients in the city who have nowhere else to go, if they can’t find another legal option once their protections expire. She added it would be more devastating for the 15,000 city children whose parents have the TPS.
“What the administration has done has thrown this community into chaos,” she said.
The decision to end TPS for Salvadorans is part of the administration’s broader push to tighten immigration laws and expel those living in the United States illegally. Critics have complained TPS has allowed participants to repeatedly extend their stays in six-month to 18-month increments.
Trump administration changes to the TPS program mean that over the next two years about 250,000 people who previously had permission to live and work in the United States will be subject to deportation if they remain. Haitians and Nicaraguans will lose their protected status in 2019 and Hondurans, the second largest group in the program, could lose their rights later this year.
Joshi said many of the immigrants have established strong roots throughout New York.
Minda Hernandez, of Huntington Station, a Salvadoran immigrant who works as a housekeeper, said TPS has allowed her to pay for a house and help her son.
“I do everything possible that I can do to do the right thing,” she said in Spanish.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce had urged the government to extend TPS protections for Salvadorans, Haitians and Hondurans, saying “the loss of employment authorization for these populations would adversely impact several key industries,” including “construction, food processing, hospitality, and home health care services.”
Joshi urged any Salvadorans to renew their TPS status and contact an attorney as soon as possible to find the best option against deportation.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who called the proposal “cruel,” also directed concerned New Yorkers to 311 and request “Action NYC.”
“Immigration legal help is available for New Yorkers with questions about how this decision may impact them,” de Blasio tweeted.