On January 8, 2018, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that temporary protected status (TPS) will end for approximately 200,000 Salvadorans, effective September 9, 2019. El Salvador was initially designated for TPS following a severe earthquake in 2001.
A country may be designated for TPS by the Secretary of Homeland Security if conditions in the country temporarily prevent its nationals from safely returning (due to civil war, natural disaster, epidemic, etc.) or the country cannot adequately handle the return of its nationals. TPS provides temporary humanitarian relief but does not lead to lawful permanent resident status. Nationals of a country designated for TPS may obtain temporary work authorization and travel authorization for specific periods as authorized by DHS.
The Bush and Obama administrations had continually extended TPS for El Salvador due to the protracted nature of dire conditions in the country. As a result, Salvadoran TPS holders have been living and working in the United States for nearly 20 years. However, DHS has determined that the original conditions caused by the earthquake and its aftershocks no longer exist, and has thus announced that the current TPS designation must be terminated.
While immigration from Mexico has slowed, immigration from El Salvador has increased in recent years. Salvadorans are currently the largest group living in the United States with temporary protected status.
The effective termination date of the TPS designation has been delayed for the maximum period of 18 months to facilitate the return and reintegration of Salvadoran nationals to El Salvador. This delay also provides time for Congress to craft a legislative solution for Salvadoran nationals to remain in the United States, such as the ESPERER Act (H.R. 4184) proposed in October of 2017 by U.S. Representative Carlos Curbelo of Florida.
Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor developments with respect to TPS programs and provide updates as information becomes available.