By Attorney Jose Aponte
On January 8, 2018, the Trump Administration announced that it was ending the Temporary Protected Status, (“TPS”) designation for people from the nation of El Salvador. While the announcement was anticipated, its impact in the Salvadoran community has been significant. Since 2001, as a result of a massive earthquake that struck the Central America region, El Salvador was designated to qualify for TPS protection. There are currently 10 nations under TPS designation. However, with some 200,000 people under the TPS protections, Salvadorans comprise the largest single group of people under the program.
Since 2001, the status designation has been extended on several occasions. Salvadorans with TPS will be required to re-register and apply for work authorization between January 18 and March 19, 2018, in order to continue to legally work and remain in the United States. After September 9, 2019, however, all Salvadorans who have not resolved their immigration status through other means, must leave the United States. If they fail to do so, they will soon thereafter begin accumulating unlawful presence in the U.S. Accumulating unlawful presence will then expose them to arrest, detention, deportation, and bars that could prevent any return to the U.S. for up to 10 years.
The Salvadoran government is currently seeking ways to help mitigate the negative impact on the Salvadoran economy that would result from having to absorb the return of tens of thousands of their compatriots after an absence of nearly 2 decades. The government of El Salvador, recently, announced that it was in conversations with officials from Qatar. These conversations have been discussing the possibility of entering into an agreement that would allow Salvadorans leaving the United States, to temporarily live and work in that middle-eastern country. However, there are still very little details known about what this agreement may look like.
The great question now is what, if any, are the available immigration alternatives available to individual that wish to remain legally in the United States after September 9, 2019. To obtain these answers, it is crucial that individuals meet as soon as possible with an experience immigration attorney in order to discuss their specific circumstances. Many individuals may indeed have viable alternatives that will allow them to remain in the United States. They, however, must act now. The sooner they meet with an experience immigration attorney, the sooner they can begin the, often, lengthy process that may have to undertake.