The Department of Homeland Security announced on Monday that it would terminate the temporary protected status for Salvadorans living in the U.S. beginning September 2019, putting 200,000 of them at risk of being sent back to a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world.
The number of people affected far exceeds 200,000, according to the Washington Post, as they are parents of about 190,000 children born in the United States.
“Since 2001, TPS holders from El Salvador have raised families and established small businesses in our communities, “Jessica Cobian, immigration campaign associate for Sojourners, said. “The administration’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status for 200,000 of our brothers and sisters from El Salvador tears families apart and sends people back to unsafe conditions.”
The El Salvador decision was the latest for the Trump administration, which is deciding whether to end or extend the protected status of immigrants whose home countries were determined unsafe to live under TPS, for reasons such as epidemics, civil wars, and natural disasters. Today’s decision is consistent with Trump administration’s agenda of further restricting legal immigrations and ending illegal immigration.
The TPS was granted to Salvadorans when the 2001 earthquake killed more than 1,150 people and jeopardized the country’s economy.
Since then, the government has continuously renewed TPS for Salvadorans, most recently in September 2016, given the country’s natural disasters, food insecurity, and gang violence.
“In recent days congregations in my faith tradition around the world have been remembering epiphany where Jesus’ own family was forced to escape violence at hands of Herod because he was threatened by the light that Jesus brought into the world," said Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, Director of Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries. "Today, the DHS decision against Salvadorans diminishes light not just to Salvadorans but to all our congregations and communities who have benefited from the gifts and partnerships of Salvadoran TPS holders over the years. It is morally wrong now for DHS to push out Salvadorans as it was for Herod to push out Jesus’ family. We must continue to push back for a legislative fix and raise our values in every way we can and through #Faith4TPS."
Currently, 88 percent of Salvadoran TPS holders are working, and annually, they contributed $3.1 billion in gross domestic production in the United States.
Moreover, according to the Washington Post, the money sent back to El Salvador by immigrants working in the U.S. has become “a pillar of the country’s economy.”
“This is not only cruel but goes against our call as Christians to protect and defend the most vulnerable in our communities,” Cobian said.
Reuters reporting contributed to this story.