WASHINGTON – The Trump administration will announce Monday that it intends to cancel the provisional residency permits of about 200,000 Salvadorans who have lived in the country since at least 2001, leaving them vulnerable to deportation, according to multiple people on Capitol Hill who have been apprised of the plan.
The administration will notify the Salvadorans they have until Sept. 9, 2019 to leave the United States or find a new way to obtain legal residency, according to a copy of the announcement prepared by the Department of Homeland Security that will be published Monday morning.
The Salvadorans were granted what is known as Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, after a series of earthquakes devastated the country in 2001.
DHS is preparing to announce that Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has decided the conditions in El Salvador have improved significantly since then, ending the original justification for the Salvadorans' deportation protection, these people said.
The decision is likely to please immigration hard-liners who argue the TPS program was never intended to provide long-term residency.
In November, DHS ended TPS for 60,000 Haitians who arrived after a 2010 earthquake. Soon after, TPS was halted for 2,500 Nicaraguan migrants. A six-month extension was recently granted to 57,000 Hondurans living in the United States with provisional residency, a decision made prior to Nielsen's arrival by then-Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke. That moved frustrated White House officials who wanted her to end the program.
Monday's pending announcement is in line with the Trump administration's wider goal of reducing legal immigration to the United States and increasing deportations, said Kevin Appleby of the New York-based Center for Migration Studies.
"The fix has been in for these TPS decisions, regardless of the facts on the ground in these countries," he said. "The decision on El Salvador is particularly damaging," he said. "It not only will uproot families and children who have lived here for years, it also will further destabilize an already violent country. It is incredibly short-sighted and undermines our interest in a stable Central America."
Oscar Cortez feels like he has an ordinary American life. He carries a Costco card. He roots for the Boston Red Sox. And five days a week, he rises before dawn, pulls on four shirts and two pairs of pants, and ventures into the frigid air to work as a plumber, a good job that pays for his Maryland townhouse and his daughters' college fund.
"I consider this my country," said Cortez, who came to the United States when he was 28 and is a silver-haired 46-year-old journeyman plumber at Shapiro & Duncan, a mechanical contractor in Rockville, Maryland, that works on construction projects in schools, office buildings, hospitals and other places.
"Behind us there are children and wives and nephews and nieces and mothers and fathers who depend on us," Cortez added. "It doesn't affect one person. It affects a ton of people."
The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe, David Nakamura and Maria Sacchetti contributed to this report.