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Salvadoran L.A. Stands Up For Temporary Protected Status

3:46 PM PST on January 8, 2018

“By definition TPS is temporary,” the former Homeland Security chief, John F. Kelly, warned last summer. “It’s not meant to be forever.”

On Monday the Trump administration made good on that definition. The Department of Homeland Security announced it would end Temporary Protected Status for Salvadoran nationals, by far the largest recipient group of the program.

TPS, as it is known, is a band-aid immigration policy that has been repeatedly renewed over the years for certain national groups, as Congress remains unable to reach a deal on much-needed immigration reform. A majority of the American population wants reform that would legalize most of those who are currently here without full authorization, poll after poll in recent years have shown.

Monday’s decision throws the lives of about 190,000 Salvadorans in the States into uncertainty. Advocates are now pushing for a congressional route to re-protecting Salvadoran immigrants from deportation:

Roberto Lovato, one of the founding organizers of Carecen, who is now working on a book on recent reporting in El Salvador and along the migration trail, said on Monday that ultimately not a lot has changed over Salvadoran immigration since President Barack Obama’s term — and since well before.

“When it comes to permanent legal protection for Salvadorans, Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George Bush, father and son, Bill Clinton, and Ronald Reagan were all right-wingers,” Lovato said when reached in his hometown of San Francisco.

“[The United States is] denying to do what the international treaties — that the United states has signed on to — is demanding it to do,” he added, referring to U.S. commitments to help refugees fleeing violence and instability. “And this is also a testament to the United States’s inability to look at its own state-sponsored violence perpetuated in El Salvador.”

Indeed there was nearly no mention during Monday’s press conference of the high levels of violence that the people of El Salvador suffer, and certainly none mentioned in the government’s statement.

Year after year El Salvador has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. This is due partly to powerful transnational gangs that were themselves initiated on the streets of Los Angeles by refugees from the U.S.-backed civil war in the 1980s.

But more on that in future stories …

“No more sitting on the sidelines, waiting for the next community to be targeted,” said Angelica Salas, of rights group CHIRLA. “Salvadoreño!” she called to great cheers and applause, “Tienes que involucrarte, sin TPS o con TPS.”

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