- - Wednesday, January 10, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

“A government bureau,” Ronald Reagan once observed, “is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.” One current example of how government can bend language out of shape to preserve this artificial eternal life is the so-called “Temporary Protected Status” program for refugees fleeing foreign disasters, both natural and man-made.

The debate over the self-evident meaning of the word “temporary” flared anew this week when the Trump administration announced it was revoking the provisional residency permits of 262,500 Salvadorans who have lived here since an earthquake devastated their Central American nation in 2001.

This follows similar rescissions last year for about 60,000 Haitians who came to the United States after an earthquake in 2010, and 2,550 Nicaraguans who had arrived a year earlier. The temporary status was intended for victims of natural disasters, droughts, famines, civil wars, genocides and the like, and such victims were expected to go home as soon as they could.

Naturally the Democrats and their open-borders allies denounce the Trump order as “cynical,” “inhumane,” “mean-spirited,” “anti-immigrant” and “pandering to the Republican base.” The Trump administration is merely being faithful to the spirit and letter of the 1990 temporary-status law as written. It’s called the rule of law.

The administration explains that it recognizes that conditions in El Salvador have improved sufficiently in the 17 years since the magnitude-7.6 earthquake hit on Jan. 13, 2001. “Based on careful consideration of available information, including recommendations received as part of an inter-agency consultation process,” at the Department of Homeland Security, “the secretary determined that the original conditions caused by the 2001 earthquakes no longer exist.”

More than 39,000 Salvadorans who have been deported in the past two years demonstrate “that the temporary inability of El Salvador to adequately return their nationals after the earthquake has been addressed.”

Temporary Protected Status is typically extended in 18-month increments, and reprieves had been routinely rubber-stamped by the Bush and Obama administrations nearly a dozen times since the Salvadoran earthquake. These previous presidents, in violation of the law, let the temporary law lapse long after the emergency ended.

The open-borders advocates pay only lip service to enforcing the law. “The administration insists it is giving meaning to the ‘temporary’ in Temporary Protected Status,” The Washington Post observes. “That’s fine as theory; as a policy, it fails by ignoring reality.” The newspaper, like other critics of the decision, cite rampant gang warfare in El Salvador, one of the highest homicide rates in the world, and an economy on life-support as reasons to make the temporary the permanent. By that logic the entire population of El Salvador should be enabled to emigrate here.

The Salvadorans have been given 18 months to make the necessary arrangements to return home. It’s sad that going home will disrupt the lives of the thousands of Salvadorans who have put down roots in this country over the past 17 years, but they agreed when they came here to prepare for just such a return trip.

Temporary Protected Status was never intended to enable an end-run around the legal-immigration process. In practice, however, these refugees have not moved to the head of the line, but have  skipped the line altogether. This is not fair to immigrants who obey the law to get here and stay here. That’s not good policy, it’s a betrayal.

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