Salvadorans to lose protected status in the US

US ends protected status for 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants

Young and other advocates are also concerned about the impact of the decision on local economies like Long Island's and the fate of USA citizen children of affected families.

The Trump administration will end a special protected status for about 200,000 would-be illegal immigrants from El Salvador who have been living here since 2001 - though they'll have an 18-month grace period to get their affairs in order, officials announced Monday.

Salvadorans make up the largest portion of individuals covered by so-called temporary protected status, which shields about 320,000 people in the US from deportation, according to the Congressional Research Service.

New Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen faces her first major test on immigration policy next week with a decision that could force upwards of 250,000 Central Americans to leave the United States or scramble to find a way to stay.

Nielsen has the ultimate decision on whether to extend El Salvador's status, but advocates on the issue from both sides of the aisle anticipate a similar decision to that on Haiti, a struggling country as well, but one the department says has recovered from its devastating natural disaster in 2010. This statistical portrait of TPS beneficiaries from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti reveals hardworking populations with strong family and other ties to the United States.

The decision comes amid intensifying talks between the White House and Congress on an immigration package that may include protections for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who came to the country as children and were temporarily shielded from deportation under an Obama-era program. Salvadorans make up the largest share of immigrants protected by the program, and all of them have lived in the United States since at least 2001.

Under President Donald Trump - who has boasted of his goal to reduce legal immigration - other TPS designations have also been halted, including for citizens of Sudan, Haiti, and Nicaragua, while the designation for Hondurans was automatically extended for six months.

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But Ms. Nielsen said she was abiding by the letter of the law, which only allows TPS to be granted when the home country is not able to handle the return of its own people.

"The past practice of allowing foreign nationals to remain in the United States long after an initial emergency in their home countries has ended has undermined the integrity of the program and essentially made the "temporary" protected status a front operation for backdoor permanent immigration", said Roy Beck, the group's president.

Salvadoran immigrant Orlando Zepeda, who came to the U.S.in 1984 to flee civil war, said he wasn't surprised by Monday's decision given the administration's position on other countries. Rep. Bennie Thompson, ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, said it was "just the latest in a string of heartless, xenophobic actions from the Trump administration".

President Donald Trump, accompanied by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, speaks during a meeting with Republican Senators on immigration at the White House in Washington on January 4, 2018.

Nielsen said last week that short-term extensions are not the answer.

Haitians and Nicaraguans will lose their protected status in 2019 and Hondurans could lose theirs later this year. Spagat reported from San Diego.

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