Editorial: Deporting Salvadorans hurts everyone


El Salvador land slide

Editorial Board

Last week, the Trump administration dropped a bombshell on El Salvador when officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the termination of their Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a humanitarian program which allowed Salvadorans to live and work legally in the United States after a pair of devastating earthquakes wreaked havoc on their country in 2001. According to the decision, nearly 200,000 Salvadorans must leave the United States by Sept. 9, 2019.

The DHS website statement said the decision was made after the DHS “determined that the original conditions caused by the 2001 earthquakes no longer exist.”

This decision is damaging, cruel and intrudes upon our tradition of humanitarianism toward migrants and refugees. Along with affecting the 200,000 Salvadorans who are being removed from their homes, it will also affect their U.S. born-and-raised children.

The decision will tear apart Salvadoran families who have made homes and established deep roots in communities during the last 17 years. Most of them are working full time and contributing to the United States as taxpayers, business owners and homeowners. Now, parents will have to decide whether to break up their families and take their U.S. born children back to El Salvador or stay in the United States at the danger of deportation.

The return of all the TPS holders could impose a massive tension on a country that already has a plethora of problems including a fragile economy, widespread poverty and rampant gang violence.

A major portion of El Salvador’s economy is based on large remittances from abroad that now exceed $4.5 billion a year, accounting for about 17 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to the World Bank. A majority of the remittances come from the United States.

The return of Salvadorans to El Salvador will cause an undeniable downturn in their country’s economy through the steep decline in remittances, the single greatest source of El Salvador’s income.

The country also cannot create an equal number of job opportunities in a short period of time for the returning citizens, which will further fuel the unemployment and poverty issues.

El Salvador has had one of the highest murder rates in Central America and such rampant gang ferociousness can be a danger to the lives of returning citizens.

However, their protected status is temporary, and they must go back at some point. But the administration knows the state of El Salvador and should consider all the facts before making an awful decision that will put more stress on an already besieged country and unnecessarily put thousands of lives in danger.

At this time, El Salvador’s administration should dynamically work with Congress and direct their efforts to find other workable alternatives to relieve this plight of their protected citizens. Congress should address this problem by granting them more time in the United States, but it seems unlikely in the current political scenario.