This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here.
Yesterday, the Trump administration announced
come September 2019, it would no longer grant Salvadorans what’s called temporary protected status, a status that allows individuals who fled natural disasters or armed conflicts to stay in the U.S. legally and obtain a work permit. The White House has previously ended TPS for Haitians and will do so soon for Hondurans. This latest decision means that, in eighteen months, nearly two hundred thousands citizens of El Salvador will face a choice: go back home, to a country many of them haven’t seen in a decade, perhaps leaving their American-born children behind (there are more than 190,000 of them), or stay here illegally and without a work permit.
- From the NYT: “Homeland security officials said that they were ending a humanitarian program, known as Temporary Protected Status, for Salvadorans who have been allowed to live and work legally in the United States since a pair of devastating earthquakes struck their country in 2001. Salvadorans were by far the largest group of foreigners benefiting from temporary protected status, which shielded them from deportation if they had arrived in the United States illegally. The decision came just weeks after more than 45,000 Haitians lost protections granted after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, and it suggested that others in the program, namely Hondurans, may soon lose them as well. Nicaraguans lost their protections last year.”
- “The Department of Homeland Security said that because damaged roads, schools, hospitals, homes and water systems had been reconstructed since the earthquakes, the Salvadorans no longer belonged in the program. … The ending of protection for Salvadorans, Haitians and Nicaraguans
leavesfewer than 100,000 people in the program, which was signed into law by President George Bush in 1990.”
- “Temporary protections were granted to Salvadorans who were in the United States in March 2001 after two earthquakes in January and February of that year killed more than 1,000 people and destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes. Over the next 15 years, the George W. Bush and Obama administrations extended the protections several times. In 2016, the final time, the government cited several factors, including drought, poverty and widespread gang violence in El Salvador, as reasons to keep the protections in place.”
- “El Salvador has rebuilt since the earthquakes. But the violence—San Salvador, the capital, is considered one of the most dangerous cities on Earth—has inhibited investment and job creation, and prompted tens of thousands to flee. The country’s economy experienced the slowest growth of any in Central America in 2016, according to the World Bank.”
- “The government of El Salvador had asked the Trump administration to renew the designation for its citizens in the United States, citing drought and other factors. Money sent home from Salvadorans abroad is a lifeline for many in the country, where four out of 10 households subsist below the poverty line, according to the World Bank. In 2016, the $4.6 billion remitted from abroad, mostly from the United States, accounted for 17 percent of the country’s economy.”
- Programming note: In a few weeks (if all goes to plan) the INDY will profile a Salvadoran who was deported. His family, who live in the Charlotte area, are here under TPS.
WHAT IT MEANS, PT. 1: The program was designed to be temporary, as the Trump administration has pointed out. But I don’t see the point of forcing them out. These are people who settled into the U.S. more than a decade ago, raised kids here, have jobs here, have integrated themselves into our economies and communities. And while some infrastructure in El Salvador has been repaired, why is the government ignoring the endemic violence in that country, not to mention its widespread poverty? Just so Trump can beat his chest about immigration? At best, this is callous, pointless policymaking. At worst … well, I’ll leave that to your imagination.
- Elections, as they say, have consequences. In this case, for two hundred thousand ex-pats from one of South America’s most dangerous and impoverished countries, those consequences will be ruinous.
MEANWHILE: Trump is still pushing for the wall along the southern border. And to pay for it—Remember when Mexico was going to pay for it? Those were the days—the White House is proposing cutting funding for border security measures that actually work. [NYT]
- “The Trump administration would cut or delay funding for border surveillance, radar technology, patrol boats and customs agents in its upcoming spending plan to curb illegal immigration—all proven security measures that officials and experts have said are more effective than building a wall along the Mexican border.”
- “President Trump has made the border wall a focus of his campaign against illegal immigration to stop drugs, terrorists
andgangs like MS-13 from coming into the United States. Under spendingplans submitted last week to Congress, the wall would cost $18 billion over the next 10 years, and be erected along nearly 900 miles of the southern border.”
- “David Bier, a policy analyst with the Cato Institute, said a border wall would do little to stop the drug trade. Most of the cocaine, heroin
andmethamphetamines smuggled into the United States come through legal ports of entry rather than areas that would be stopped by a wall, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Nor would a wall stop illegal immigration, other experts said. Data from the Department of Homeland Security and research groups like the New York-based Center for Migration Studies show that most undocumented immigrants now simply overstay legally obtained short-term visas—and did not sneak across the border.”
- “The wall also has become a bargaining chip in negotiations with Congress as lawmakers seek to prevent nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants from being deported.”
WHAT IT MEANS, PT. 2: Here again, you have the administration prioritizing its outlandish promises to its base over good policy. If Congress goes along, the administration will cut things that work to pay for things that won’t. And if Congress won’t go along, that could imperil the eight hundred thousand DACA recipients in the country. Again, elections have consequences.
Related:A bipartisan pair of congressmen has unveiled a compromise on DACA recipients that would offer qualifying individuals the ability to get a green card and eventual citizenship under certain circumstances. [CNN]
Related: Under pressure from the business and tech communities, the Trump administration has backed off a plan to force foreign tech workers out of the country. [McClatchy via N&O]