The President Donald Trump administration is expected to announce Monday their plan to force 200,000 Salvadorans to leave the United States.
Trump has made similar announcements in the recent past regarding the immigration status of Haitians and Nicaraguans over the past year. The protected status for Salvadorans, however, adds a new wrinkle in the story over Trump’s hard-line policies on immigration.
Citizens from El Salvador have been given protective status since 1990 when Congress authorized allowing Salvadorans to enter the U.S. during a civil war that was occurring in their home country. Further protections were given in 2001 following a devastating earthquake in the region. Those protections have been renewed every 18 months by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
But Trump is ending the temporary protected status given to Salvadorans, a move that could affect up to 200,000 individuals currently living here. Those affected by the program’s end would have to leave the country by September 2019.
The move would affect hundreds of thousands of families as well. It’s estimated that more than 190,000 individuals living in America are the U.S.-born children of the 200,000 Salvadorans who would be forced to leave. Those children are legally U.S. citizens, which means that many families would be split up as a result of the decision by the Trump administration.
“Individuals from those countries settle here, they have roots, they marry U.S. citizens, they have U.S. citizen children,” Cornell Law Professor Stephen Yale-Loehr said in November when the decision was still under review. “So, if you take it away, then you’re dividing families and sending some people back to their home country.”
The move will likely be popular for Trump among his GOP base. It’s also par for the course for an administration which has rounded up immigrants since coming to office, no matter the personal consequences to communities or families.
The nuanced approach during the Obama administration was strikingly more compassionate, and preferable, to the current administration’s tactics. Trump, it seems, isn’t concerned about "compassion" or the consequences his decisions will have on American families. He only worries about how these moves help propel his image as an anti-immigrant president.