What does it mean to be under Temporary Protected Status or TPS?

Nearly 200,000 Salvadorans will be forced to leave the country or face deportation. They'll have until September 2019 to leave the U.S. or adjust their legal status. (Jan. 8, 2018)

The Trump administration is ending temporary protected immigration status for 200,000 Salvadorans who have been living in the U.S. for nearly two decades, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Monday's announcement comes months after the administration decided on the same fate for immigrants under protected status from Nicaragua, Sudan and Haiti.

Salvadorans were granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in 2001 after a couple of earthquakes devastated the Central American country. However, new Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, concluded the country has recovered from the earthquake damage and the initial conditions no longer exist, according to a press statement.

The DHS is delaying the termination of El Salvador's TPS 18 months-- or until Sept. 9, 2019-- to give those affected time to arrange for departure from the U.S. or gain an alternative lawful immigration status.

In November, then-acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, announced her decision to end TPS for about 2,500 immigrants from Nicaragua. Nicaraguans have until January 5, 2019-- 14 months after the initial expiration date of their status-- to leave the country or change their immigration status.

Duke made the decision on Nicaragua based on the lack of "definitive information regarding conditions on the ground compared to pre-Hurricane Mitch", according to a press statement. There was also no request from the Nicaraguan government to extend the current TPS status. The group received TPS shortly after the hurricane hit in Central America in 1998. Congress enacted the TPS statute in 1990.

In the same month, the department also ended TPS status for about 59,000 Haitians living legally in the U.S. since the powerful 2010 earthquake. They must return to Haiti by July 2019. Additionally, the department eliminated TPS status for 1,000 Sudanese after it was first granted in 2001 because of a civil war. They have until November to return.

Like Nicaraguans, about 57,000 Hondurans were also designated for TPS after Hurricane Mitch and shared a January 5 expiration date for their status. In November, Duke said she didn't have enough information to determine whether or not to grant a renewal to Hondurans under TPS and extended the expiration date to July 5, 2018. Duke said its possible Honduran TPS designation will end after the six-month extension period based off the information she had.

TPS was initially granted to immigrants from 10 different countries throughout various administrations and is reviewed by the DHS on a regular basis to determine whether renewal is appropriate. 

Throughout both Republican and Democratic past administrations, the ten countries granted TPS were El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Nicaragua.

TPS is a form of humanitarian relief to provide a "safe haven" for immigrants who may have entered the U.S. illegally due to temporary conditions in their native country such as war, an environmental disaster or other extraordinary temporary conditions. 

The Secretary of Homeland Security may also grant TPS if a country is not able to handle the return of its nationals adequately.

However, even if a person meets the requirements they may be denied the status if they been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors in the U.S. or if they're linked to any terrorist activity or persecution of another person.

Individuals with TPS are protected from deportation, granted travel authorization and can request an employment authorization document (EAD). TPS doesn't lead to permanent residency status but individuals with TPS can apply for a non-immigrant status or file for an immigration adjustment.

In total, more than 300,000 people are currently living in the U.S. under TPS. A total of more than 430,000 individuals have been granted TPS but some have since received another immigration status, died or moved out of the U.S.

Salvadorans make up the bulk of the total number of people in the U.S. under TPS. There were 16,000 Salvadorans living in Sacramento in 2014, according to a 2016 Pew Research Center report.

While we don't know how many of those individuals are under TPS, we do know Salvadorans are part of the Sacramento community. 

Last February, the State Department issued a travel warning to U.S. travelers about widespread violence throughout the Central American country. "El Salvador has one of the highest homicide levels in the world and crimes such as extortion, assault and robbery are common," the warning said.

However, the decision to end TPS for Salvadorans was based on earthquake recovery and not on the street violence seen in the country.

According to USA Today's Alan Gomez, El Salvador's embassy in Washington estimates that 97 percent of Salvadorans on TPS over age 24 are employed and pay taxes and more than half own their homes. The Center for Migration Studies also found, Salvadorans on TPS have given birth to 192,000 children-- all U.S. citizens-- according to the USA Today article.

In September, the Trump administration announced protections for the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would be rescinded. The program currently shields some 800,000 young immigrants from deportation. Similar to what's happening with TPS, Trump officials are giving Congress time to come up with a permanent solution to the DACA recipients.

© 2018 KXTV-TV


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