US ends protected status for 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants

Some 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants allowed to live and work in the United States since 2001 will lose their right to remain in the country in 2019, officials said on Monday.
US President Donald Trump listens to his Secretary of Homeland Security nominee Kirstjen Nielsen in the East Room of the White House in Washington, US, Oct 12, 2017.
US President Donald Trump listens to his Secretary of Homeland Security nominee Kirstjen Nielsen in the East Room of the White House in Washington, US, Oct 12, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US government announced Monday (Jan 8) the end of protected status for about 200,000 Salvadorans in the country since before 2001, a move that threatens tens of thousands of well-established families with children born in the United States.

Homeland Security Department Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced the end of the 17-year-old "temporary protected status" (TPS) for the Salvadorans, which had shielded them from deportation ever since two major earthquakes rocked El Salvador in early 2001.

They were given 18 months to leave or be deported, enough time that a legislative solution could be crafted by Congress to allow them to stay.

"Only Congress can legislate a permanent solution addressing the lack of an enduring lawful immigration status of those currently protected by TPS who have lived and worked in the United States for many years," said the DHS.

The move came in the wake of the termination of similar TPS protections for 59,000 longtime resident Haitians and 5,300 Nicaraguans late last year, after having been allowed to set deep roots inside the United States for decades.