The Department of Homeland Security announced January 8, 2018 that El Salvador’s Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation will terminate September 9, 2019.
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said that the decision was made after reviewing whether the disaster-related conditions that the designation was based on continue to exist. Nielsen said that the TPS designation must be terminated because the conditions resulting from the 2001 earthquakes are no longer present in El Salvador.
The decision means that approximately 200,000 Salvadorans will have their TPS terminated, causing them to face deportation. Salvadoran officials worried that a wave of returning citizens would destabilize the country. Many Salvadorans have lived in the United States for decades and have sent billions of dollars annually to relatives in El Salvador. Returning Salvadorans would face safety risks in a country with a significant gang problem and a high murder rate. Salvadoran officials said that they would use the 18 months until the decision goes into effect to lobby Congress for a legislative solution that would allow Salvadorans with TPS to stay in the United States.
DHS said that more than 39,000 people had been repatriated to El Salvador in the last two years, showing that the country is able to adequately handle the return of its nationals. According to DHS, the 18 months will give time for people living in the United States to prepare for departure or seek an alternative legal status for which they may be eligible. DHS said that the time frame will also allow the government of El Salvador to arrange for the reintegration of its citizens, while permitting Congress time to craft a potential legislative solution.