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Trump decision strips protections for 250,000 El Salvadoran refugees
Advocacy groups condemned the administration's decision, saying it is unnecessarily harsh and damaging to the U.S. and Salvadoran economies.
By Delila James
Jan 12, 2018

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WASHINGTON D.C. — An estimated 262,000 El Salvadorans will lose their temporary protected immigration status, according to a Trump administration order announced Monday, and many could be deported to a now-strange country they have not lived in for decades.

Special protections for Salvadorans were extended in 2001 by the Bush administration for refugees escaping from the devastation caused by two severe earthquakes in the small Central American country, a report by the Los Angeles Times said.

Salvadorans covered by the temporary protected status program have 18 months to return to El Salvador or figure out another way to stay in the U.S. legally.

Officials justified removing the protections by saying conditions in El Salvador have improved.

"Schools and hospitals damaged by the earthquakes have been reconstructed and repaired, homes have been rebuilt, and money has been provided for watering sanitation and to repair earthquake-damaged roads and other infrastructures," said Homeland Security officials, in a statement, as reported by the Times. "The substantial disruption of living conditions caused by the earthquake no longer exist."

Advocacy groups condemned the administration's decision, saying it is unnecessarily harsh and damaging to the U.S. and Salvadoran economies. Over the course of nearly 20 years, Salvadorans have established businesses and careers in the U.S. and the Salvadoran economy is bolstered by money sent back to families from the immigrants.

In addition, Salvadorans with temporary status are parents to some 200,000 children who are U.S. citizens.

"The United States has yet again turned its back on its promise to provide refuge for those who face violence and persecution in their home countries," said Oscar Chacn, executive director of Alianza Americas, a coalition of immigrant rights groups, in the Times report.