- The Washington Times - Monday, October 28, 2019

The U.S. reached a deal with El Salvador on Monday granting more than 200,000 Salvadorans an additional year’s grace period before they would become illegal immigrants, in exchange for El Salvador’s cooperation in stemming this year’s border surge.

As many as 250,000 Salvadorans are in the U.S. under special Temporary Protected Status, stemming from a natural disaster some two decades ago. Past administrations routinely granted them an extension of their time here, but the Trump administration is committed to ending those extensions.

That move by the Trump administration is being challenged in the courts, but the new agreement guarantees Salvadorans at least a year’s grace period after the court cases end.

“The administration’s goal is to create an orderly and responsible process to repatriate Salvadorans and help them return home; however, a sudden inflow of 250,000 individuals to El Salvador could spark another mass migration to the U.S. and reinvigorate the crisis at the southern border,” Homeland Security said in a statement announcing the deal.

“Taking into account these concerns, we have decided to provide additional time to work out that plan. We cannot allow the progress the President has made the past several months to be negated,” the department said,



Salvadoran Foreign Minister Alexandra Hill said her government, under President Nayib Bukele, will use the grace period to try to get the U.S. to granting the TPS holders a permanent status here.

“The Salvadorans protected by the TPS are admirable people, who have worked for 20 years to build a future of well-being. Now, thanks to President Bukele, we can tell nearly 250,000 fellow citizens and their families that with the support of the United States they can continue to fight for their dreams,” she said.

The deal, inked by Ms. Hill and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli, is the latest agreement between the Trump administration and Central American nations responsible for this year’s border surge.

Other deals give the U.S. the ability to send asylum-seekers who cross Central American countries back to those nations.

TPS has long been a controversial part of the American immigration system.

The status was intended to be a temporary relief for citizens of countries facing war, political upheaval or natural disasters could remain here for the duration of the recovery, rather than returning home to nations unable to accommodate them.

The status was granted to hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans after an earthquake in El Salvador in 2001. The country looks completely different today, but the Bush and Obama administrations regularly renewed the TPS status nonetheless.

Democrats on Capitol Hill compare TPS holders to illegal immigrant “Dreamers” here under the Obama-era DACA deportation amnesty. Democrats say both classes of migrants are top priorities for a full amnesty granting them a pathway to citizenship.

The Trump administration has signaled an openness to the idea, though the price — changes to the legal immigration system and construction of a border wall — are too steep for Democrats.

Immigrant-rights groups chided the administration Monday for the new deal, saying it was only a temporary extension.

“TPS holders and their families are not bargaining chips. They deserve a permanent solution, one that only Congress can give,” said Douglas Rivlin, a spokesman for America’s Voice.

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