San Salvador, Jan 8 (EFE).- The government of El Salvador on Monday asked the many thousands of Salvadorans living in the United States and shielded from deportation under Temporary Protected Status to remain calm after the cancellation of the program, saying that it will continue working to achieve a “permanent solution” to the matter.
The US government decided on Monday to cancel TPS for the Salvadorans living in the US, but it will give them 18 months – or until September 2019 – to leave the country voluntarily or seek an alternative way to regularize their immigration status.
The Salvadorans protected under the immigration program “should remain calm, because we have 18 more months, starting in March of this year through September 2019, to seek a permanent solution to this situation, or for these people to obtain residency” said Salvadoran Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez.
At a press conference, Martinez said that up until September 2019 Salvadorans living in the US “can continue normally with their activities because the announcement does not mean immediate deportation.”
The foreign minister said that “no person benefitting under TPS is being asked to leave the United States before Sept. 9, 2019,” and he reiterated the Salvadoran government’s commitment to continue seeking a permanent solution.
“During these 18 months, we’re going to continue working arduously with the Congress of the United States to achieve a permanent solution for the more than 190,000 of our countrymen who live and work in (the US),” he added.
Martinez thanked the US for the 18-month grace period authorized for his country’s TPS beneficiaries, a move that “reaffirms the strong links of friendship and cooperation that (the two nations) maintain as historic partners.”
He said that the grace period is the result of actions undertaken by assorted sectors which, along with the Salvadoran Foreign Ministry, are pursuing intense activities in favor of the Salvadoran citizens living in the US.
The US Department of Homeland Security justified the decision by saying that “the original conditions caused by the 2001 earthquakes no longer exist,” and that was the initial reason that TPS was granted to a total of 263,282 Salvadorans up through the end of 2016, according to official figures provided to EFE.
The Salvadoran government, the Salvadoran community in the US and pro-immigrant activists have been battling in recent months to get TPS extended or at least to have its cancellation delayed by six months, as the government did with the TPS program for Hondurans.
However, the Donald Trump administration decided to adhere to its hard line on immigration and end the program for Salvadorans after having done the same for TPS as applied to Nicaraguans and Haitians.
According to the Salvadoran government, more than 190,000 Salvadorans benefit under TPS, but DHS says that the program protects more than 250,000.