Yesterday, the Trump Administration and Department of Homeland Security announced the decision to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 200,000 Salvadorans currently living in the United States under protection from the program.
Salvadoran TPS holders are hardworking individuals who pay taxes and contribute to our communities and economy, as the below media reports highlight:
Associated Press: U.S. ends protections for Salvadoran immigrants, sparking fear, By Luis Alonso Lugo and Elliot Spagat
The decision, while not surprising, was a severe blow to Salvadorans in New York, Houston, San Francisco and other major cities that have welcomed them since at least the 1980s.
Guillermo Mendoza, who came to the United States in 2000 when he was 19 years old, was anguished about what to do with his wife and two children who are U.S. citizens.
“What do I do? Do I leave the country and leave them here? That is a tough decision,” said Mendoza, a safety manager at Shapiro & Duncan, a mechanical contractor company in Rockville, Maryland, near Washington.…
Cristian Chavez Guevara, a 37-year-old Salvadoran immigrant in Houston who is raising two American stepchildren and a young cousin, said the decision would tear apart his family. He was unsure what to do.
“I have been building dreams for the future and raising hope for a better future not just for me but for my family,” he said. “All of that came to a halt.”
The action presents a serious challenge for El Salvador, a country of 6.2 million people whose economy counts on money sent by wage earners in the U.S.
New York Times: From Offices to Disney World, Employers Brace for the Loss of an Immigrant Work Force, By Vivian Yee, Liz Robbins, and Caitlin Dickerson
“There are no Americans out there to take the jobs,” said Mark Drury, a vice president at Shapiro & Duncan, a Washington-area plumbing, heating and cooling firm. The company and its competitors have resorted to poaching each other’s project managers, engineers, welders and plumbers.
The company even retrained and hired a former coal miner who decided to switch careers, Mr. Drury said, but had not found other miners willing to move to the area.
Not only will the company have to lay off its 14 Salvadoran workers, Mr. Drury said, but it was also worrying about the roughly 30 employees who are protected from deportation by virtue of a government program for immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children. The Trump administration has announced the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, will expire in March. Congress is considering creating a new program for those immigrants, perhaps in exchange for new border security spending, but no deal has been reached.
Mr. Drury said he had about 40 openings. The company — which is helping to build a cancer center, the new headquarters of the mortgage giant Fannie Mae and a project at the National Security Agency’s headquarters — was already turning away work because it could not hire fast enough, he said.
“Losing people just puts us further behind,” he said.
For Stan Marek, the chief executive of Marek, a Houston-based construction company, the decisions to end temporary protections have come at the worst possible time. Houston is waiting to be rebuilt after its run-in with Hurricane Harvey, yet, he said, there will be fewer people than ever to overhaul the city’s office buildings, schools, hotels and hospitals.
About 30 employees from Honduras, Haiti and El Salvador with temporary protected status have worked for him for over a decade. Some are skilled craftsmen; some are supervisors.
Mr. Marek has pushed on his workers’ behalf, even paying for a public relations campaign to call for immigration reform.
Wall Street Journal: U.S. to End Protections for Some Salvadoran Immigrants, By Alicia Caldwell and Laura Meckler
Damaged schools, hospitals and homes have been repaired since the earthquakes in El Salvador, the administration official said. Crime rates, poverty or economic concerns weren’t considered as part of the decision, the official said. The official also said that deportation to El Salvador have been ongoing—more than 39,000 people have been sent back in the past few years.
“I think that there’s definitely a thought that almost regardless of country conditions, if a country has had TPS for a while, they shouldn’t get it” renewed, said Royce Murray, policy director for the American Immigration Council, a pro-immigrant advocacy group.
Ms. Murray and others said it is nearly impossible to know if lawmakers will be able to negotiate an immigration compromise that includes a path to legal status for both young immigrants and the TPS recipients.
“I do think there’s a pragmatism to the discussion that Dreamers need to be protected,” Ms. Murray said. “If there’s a possibility for TPS to be added without an absurd trade off—and different groups would define that quite differently—then I think it’s on the table.”
Washington Post: ‘We will lose practically everything’: Salvadorans devastated by TPS decision, By Maria Sacchetti
Labor leaders said Salvadorans with protected status mop floors in Washington museums and empty wastebaskets at the World Bank. They are also construction workers, business owners, managers and investors. A mass exodus would impact the D.C. workforce and economy, as well as the economy in El Salvador, where TPS holders send millions of dollars to family members each year.
“It is going to be devastating for us,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D). “Whether it’s construction or the service industry, the impact it will have is just devastating”….
Jaime Contreras, a welder on the project that will extend Metrorail to Dulles International Airport, said TPS and his job have transformed his family, both in Maryland and in El Salvador.
As a child in El Salvador, Contreras went to school in the mornings and to work in the afternoons, painting houses at age 7 and welding at 11. At 20, he moved to the United States seeking higher wages. Now he is 37 and the owner of a modest yellow-brick house in Beltsville, where he lives with his wife and three U.S.-born children. He sends $300 a month to his mother in El Salvador to pay for treatments for her failing kidneys.
“My children, my wife and my mom depend on all this — and me, too,” he said.