09 Jan 2018
Salvadoreans must leave US by 2019, says Trump administration
The Trump administration has asked at least 200,000 people from El Salvador in the US to pack their bags by September 9, 2019.
It cancelled their Temporary Protected Status (TPS) which were granted after the country was hit by an earthquake in 2001.
These permits had so far allowed them to live and work in the US.
What does this mean? Read on.
First off, what is Trump's stance on immigration?
A stricter approach towards immigration was one of Trump's key campaign pitches. The number of deportations has increased since he assumed power in January.
He introduced the contentious travel ban, restricting entry of citizens from six Muslim-majority countries and has been pushing to build the controversial US-Mexico border wall.
Trump had also introduced stricter H-1B visa norms irking several Indian IT giants.
Is Trump trying to restrict immigration from Latin America?
Trump had earlier terminated Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) - an Obama-era program meant to protect youth under 30, termed "Dreamers" from deportation, most of whom were Latin Americans.
In addition, the Trump administration had terminated TPS protections granted to at least 59,000 Haitians and 5,300 Nicaraguans in 2017. Their deadline expires in 2019 as well.
What is a Temporary Protected Status?
Initiated in the 1990s, the TPS is awarded to citizens of countries affected by "armed conflict, disease or epidemics."
US Presidents before Trump had re-authorized it several times.
It authorizes these immigrants to live and work in the US, irrespective of whether they entered the country legally or illegally.
The largest number of TPS have so far been awarded to Salvadoreans.
How will this affect Salvadoreans?
The decision leaves the fate of nearly 200,000 Salvadoreans in the US and their children in limbo.
They may get deported; children and Salvadoreans with American spouses may be separated from their families.
Given the fact that American remittances amount up to 50% of El Salvador's GDP, TPS termination is also likely to affect the country's economy in the long run.
Homeland security justifies the termination
In a statement explaining the decision, US Homeland Security explained "The original conditions caused by the 2001 earthquakes no longer exist.....thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated." It added that the 2019 deadline was meant to "allow an orderly transition."