The White House is telling about 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants who have lived in the US for years that it's time to go back to their home country. More specifically, the Homeland Security Department is ending the special legal protections that the immigrants have had since 2001 under the Temporary Protected Status program. The DHS position is that the key word there is "temporary," but advocates say the move will hurt both the US and Central America. The details of what's happening:
- The protections: After earthquakes devastated El Salvador in 2001, the US bestowed TPS status on the nation, meaning even Salvadorans who had arrived in the US illegally could live and work here without fear of deportation. DHS chief Kirstjen Nielsen has concluded that the situation has improved enough in El Salvador to remove the TPS designation, reports the AP.
- The numbers: The move isn't a huge surprise given that about 50,000 Haitians and 2,500 Nicaraguans similarly lost their legal status last year. But the Salvadoran decision affects by far the most people. The estimated 200,000 immigrants affected have about 190,000 American-born children, and roughly one-third are homeowners, per the Washington Post. The move means they have until Sept. 19, 2019, to leave the country or obtain legal residency. (A decision affecting about 57,000 Hondurans is pending.)