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New York Times: Immigrants From El Salvador, Hopeful and Fearful for Future

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Families Prepare For Their Temporary Protected Status To Expire and Subsequent Forced Deportation If Congress Does Not Act

In an article for the New York Times, Julie Scharper gives voice to the uncertainty and worry of Ruth Ayala and Tomas Guevara, Temporary Protected Status holders whose legal status was terminated by the Trump administration last year. On top of raising their children, the couple now also worries about the threat of possible forced deportation in the wake of their status’ termination.

The piece highlights the importance for Congress to act and protect those whose lives have been upended at the hands of the Trump administration- TPS holders and DACA recipients alike.

Scharper’s article is excerpted below and available online here.

Tomas Guevara fell in love with Ruth Ayala years before they met. Her brothers — like Mr. Guevara, Salvadoran immigrants living outside Washington — talked about her at church. She was hardworking and kind, they said, devoted to her family and her faith.

… Soon the couple was talking for hours each night before bed. Four years later, Mr. Guevara traveled back to El Salvador with a ring in his pocket. The couple married in 2011 in San Salvador and spent three happy months together before Mr. Guevara had to return to the United States.

Mr. Guevara returned to El Salvador about once a year to see his wife. After she became pregnant, the distance between them took on new poignancy.

“It was a very emotional time,” Ms. Ayala, 35, recalled, through an interpreter. “I was so happy to finally become a mother, but, of course, it was difficult because you want your husband to be there to support you.”

… When Mr. Guevara returned to Maryland, he began researching ways to bring his wife and child to his new home. He turned to the International Rescue Committee, one of the eight organizations supported by The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund.

A caseworker told him about the Central American Minors program, begun in 2014, which allowed the children of parents with temporary protected status to apply for permanent residency as refugees. As Isaac’s mother and Mr. Guevara’s wife, Ms. Ayala was also eligible.

“The program for refugees was a light for us,” Ms. Ayala said. She felt unsafe in El Salvador as gang violence and crime increased. The country’s homicide rate in 2015 was more than double the 2013 rate, though it has since decreased.

… Early last year, the family grew again with the birth of a daughter, Rebecca. Now cans of baby formula sit next to plumbing manuals and English textbooks in the family’s sparse apartment.

But the family fears their safe and stable home is threatened. In January 2018, the Trump administration announced that temporary protected status for people from El Salvador would end in September 2019. More than 200,000 Salvadorans who have lived in the country since 2001 would be affected by the decision. They must either return to El Salvador or be approved for another immigration program.

In October, a federal judge blocked the termination of the protected status for Salvadorans, but the administration is appealing.

… The family believes they belong in their adopted country, where their daughter is a citizen. They dream of buying a home in the suburbs with a big lawn for the children. Mr. Guevara hopes to start his own plumbing company and teach others the trade. They try to protect Isaac from their worries about Mr. Guevara’s immigration status.

“We’re very hopeful that my husband’s application will be approved,” Ms. Ayala said. “God has been very good to us. We’re very hardworking people, and we just want to continue working hard for our family.”