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In a deep dive piece for HuffPost, Elise Foley describes the deeply tragic consequences of the Trump administration’s termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for hundreds of thousands of families like the Amayas, a mixed-status family living in Virginia.
Foley’s article is excerpted below and is available in full here.
If it were solely up to President Donald Trump, 11-year-old Herman Amaya and his family would already be preparing to leave the U.S. for El Salvador.
Four of the five members of the Annandale, Virginia-based family are in legal limbo, waiting for courts to decide whether they should be forced out of the country where they have resided for years. The fifth is Herman, a U.S. citizen who could be forced to either leave the nation where he was born or separate from his family.
… It’s a particularly complicated time to be a mixed-status family that includes some members who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents and others who have temporary protections or none at all.
Sam and older sister Diana are two of nearly 700,000 beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, created by President Barack Obama to give work permits and temporary relief to young people who came to the U.S. as kids.
Their parents are two of nearly 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants who received similar relief under Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, because their country was deemed too dangerous or unstable to send immigrants back to in years past.
… More than a decade ago, the parents received TPS. Getting the protections changed their lives by letting them work legally and without constant fear of deportation, said mother Idalia Majano-Amaya. It was nerve-wracking during the periodic waits to see whether the government would renew TPS for Salvadorans, based on conditions on the ground there, and it was expensive to pay the fees for both Majano-Amaya and her husband. But it was worth it.
… Sam Amaya doesn’t want to go back to El Salvador. He remembers only three people there — his grandmother, grandfather and great-grandmother — and only his grandmother is still alive. She tells him about the kids his age in her neighborhood, many of whom have been killed or joined gangs. He is planning to go back to school in the spring and plays music at church.
Majano-Amaya doesn’t want to return to El Salvador, either. Her husband, kids, siblings and nieces and nephews all live in the U.S. The family gets together often — at least once a week, sometimes more — and she works for her brother’s company.
… Then there’s what to do about 11-year-old Herman. He has every right to be in the U.S. as a citizen, just like an estimated 192,700 other American-born children of Salvadoran TPS holders. But the U.S. government doesn’t offer any blanket reprieve to parents of U.S. citizen kids. A Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman told The Washington Post that the government would “coordinate with the Government of El Salvador to better understand what documents might be needed by U.S. citizen children to enroll in local schools, access local health services, or other social services.”
The family doesn’t often talk about what will come next. It’s hard to even think about.
Sam Amaya recalls being really scared only once, about two months ago. He was in his bedroom talking to his mother and they began to discuss the possibility of losing protections. His sister came in and joined them, and then their father.
They decided that if their parents were forced to go, the kids would go, too, even if they still had DACA protections.
“We just can’t stay separated,” Sam said. “We’ve been living through this our whole lives and we’ll find a way to live through it together. I don’t think separation is the way to go.”