By Courtney Griffin
On Monday January 9th, the Trump administration announced its plan to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of El Salvador. This decision came just weeks after the white house announced the termination of TPS for Haitians. Combined, these decisions to terminate TPS could leave close to 300,000 immigrants- many of whom have lived in the US for over a decade without legal status.
TPS was adopted in 1990 to protect immigrants who did not meet asylum criteria, but were seeking relief from civil strife and natural disaster. During the designated TPS period, TPS beneficiaries are not removable from the United States and are eligible to work in the US. Once TPS expires, beneficiaries who have not found another way to stay in the US are required to leave the US and return to their country of origin. Not only will this decision subject thousands of individuals to migration back to unstable, violence ravaged countries, but it will also result in significant economic consequences.
Many countries on the TPS designation list are countries that currently face tumultuous situations, including: extreme political instability, health catastrophes, and humanitarian crises. Specifically, El Salvador is considered the homicide capital of the world, sometimes averaging up to one homicide every hour. The thousands of immigrants that the Trump administration plans on sending back to El Salvador will be met with gang violence from the deadly MS-13 and a rapidly weakening economy that many say cannot support an impending influx of migrants. Critics of Trump’s decision to terminate TPS, especially for Salvadorans, claim that deporting individuals back to El Salvador would be “inhumane and not consistent with American values.”
In addition to the humanitarian consequences affiliated with the termination of TPS are the economic consequences associated with deporting hundreds of thousands of TPS beneficiaries. The economies of the US and El Salvador could suffer significant economic blows upon the expiration of TPS. It is estimated that at least 150,000 Salvadoran TPS recipients send remittances to El Salvador averaging $600 million per year. If that money were to stop arriving in El Salvador, it would result in economic stagnation and put many families who depend on remittances in desperate situations.
In the US, the cost associated with deporting thousands of Salvadorans combined with the contribution losses to social security, Medicare, and GDP, could result in a net loss of billions of dollars to the US. Low estimates suggest that deporting Salvadoran TPS beneficiaries could yield a net GDP loss of more than $3.1 billion dollars annually. Though TPS was intended to be a temporary program, the current plan for terminating TPS designation for thousands seems to have significant consequences for both the US and El Salvador.
CNN—Trump administration ends protections for more than 200,000 Salvadorans- Jan. 9, 2018, available at https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/08/politics/temporary-protected-status-el-salvador/index.html.
CNN—Trump administration ended protected status for 250,000 Salvadorans. These immigrants might be next- Jan. 10, 2018, available at http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/09/politics/temporary-protected-status-countries/index.html.
NYT—El Salvador Again Feels the Hand of Washington Shaping Its Fate- Jan. 9, 2018, available at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/09/world/americas/el-salvador-trump.html.
NPR—What You May Not Realize About The End of TPS Status for Salvadorans- Jan. 9, 2018, available at https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2018/01/09/576583550/what-you-may-not-realize-about-the-end-of-tps-status-for-salvadorans.
ILRC— Economic Contributions by Salvadoran, Honduran, and Haitian TPS Holders- Apr. 2017, available at https://www.ilrc.org/sites/default/files/resources/2017-04-18_economic_contributions_by_salvadoran_honduran_and_haitian_tps_holders.pdf.