On Monday, January 8, the Department of Homeland Security announced the end of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for over 200,000 Salvadorans who have been living in the United States for nearly twenty years. Following a number of earthquakes that devastated El Salvador, the Bush Administration granted TPS to Salvadorans in the United States in 2001. The TPS designation was reauthorized every 18 months from that time until yesterday’s announcement.
Under US immigration laws, the government may designate nationals of a particular country eligible for TPS where the country experiences ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, an epidemic or other extraordinary or temporary conditions. During the period of time that TPS is in effect, grantees are not subject to deportation from the United States and can obtain a work permit. TPS does not lead to permanent immigration status.
In reaching its decision to terminate Salvadoran TPS, the Administration based its decision exclusively on earthquake recovery. However, despite the fact that many Salvadoran TPS holders have lived in the US for almost two decades, holding steady employment and becoming integrated members in the communities in which they reside, the Administration has not offered any transitional path towards U.S. permanent residence.
As a result, TPS for Salvadorans will end on September 9, 2019. Salvadorans with TPS will be required to re-register and apply for employment authorization in order to continue to legally work and remain in the United States until termination of the program. It is important to remember that there may be options for many of these individuals apart from TPS, which should be explored with immigration counsel as soon as possible.