The Trump administration’s decision to end the Temporary Protected Status for nearly 200,000 people from El Salvador who have been allowed to live in the United States for more than a decade comes as no surprise, given President Trump’s attitude toward immigration and his past decisions to end protected status for Haitians and Nicaraguans. It’s the wrong decision, on humanitarian and practical grounds.
The T.P.S. program was approved in 1990 to allow undocumented foreigners who were in the United States when disaster struck their homeland to remain in the country until it was safe to return. The Salvadorans were granted protected status after a pair of devastating earthquakes in their land in 2001, and their status was extended several times by the George W. Bush and Obama administrations.
Technically, the Department of Homeland Security is right that the conditions created by those quakes no longer exist. But the reasons the Salvadorans, like the Haitians and Nicaraguans, should be allowed to stay far outweigh the technically legal reasons to send them home.
Most of the Salvadorans who originally qualified for protected status fled a brutal civil war in their country between 1980 and 1992 — a war the United States fanned by its military support for the Salvadoran government. More than half of the Salvadorans under the program have lived in the United States for more than 20 years, and most have been working legally, paying taxes and raising families, including American-born children.
To uproot them is cruel and unnecessary.
Though El Salvador has rebuilt since the 2001 earthquakes, it remains ravaged by gang violence, drought and poverty, and its governments have regularly appealed to Washington not to aggravate the problems by repatriating thousands of people and halting the money they send back. In 2016, about $4.6 billion in remittances accounted for 17 percent of El Salvador’s economy.
HERE ARE 7 WAYS TO STOP DEPORTATION:
Apply for political asylum: In recent years asylum grants have jumped to over 50% as compared to when I started practicing immigration law in the 1990s, with rates back then around only 17% ! A profound fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or social group must be shown.
Waivers of removal: The most common ways to stop deportation include the old 212(c) pardon for green card holders with certain crimes who can show that their good deeds outweigh their bad acts. 212(c) was replaced by Cancellation of Removal for Certain Permanent Residents but the balancing test is the same.
Prosecutorial Discretion: A memo issued in recent years directs The Department of Homeland Security to stop deportation for humanitarian reasons. This guidance is nothing new as prosecutorial discretion has been around for decades. Many are disappointed that more immigrants have not received this protection, but a strong application may stop deportation.
Cancellation of Removal for non permanent residents: Unlike the waiver noted above, this application to stop deportation is for people who ask an Immigration Judge to give them a green card upon proving ten years in the United States, good moral character plus exceptional and unusual hardship to certain American family members, typically children.
U Visa: This application is for immigrant victims of violent crimes and is used to deter criminals from preying on the undocumented. Along with the T visa for victims of human trafficking, the U benefits foreigners who cooperate with law enforcement agencies. Not only will it stop deportation but it will result in a green card, eventually.
I-601 waivers for immigrants charged with fraud, unlawful presence or crime: The immigrant generally must have no drug offenses, and also needs to prove extreme hardship to a qualifying relative, frequently a United States citizen, but in some cases a green card holder. Seven years of living in America is required as well in most but not all 601 cases.
Voluntary Departure: When all else fails, promising to buy a ticket to leave still beats removal. This way to stop deportation may of course still result in leaving the country but it may make a lawful re-entry easier.