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In response, Vicki Gass, Senior Policy Advisor for Oxfam said:
“The cruel and heartless termination of TPS status for Salvadorans needlessly puts the lives of thousands of people at risk. This decision is ill-conceived, dangerous, and undermines U.S. foreign interests in the region. This needless move will force hundreds of thousands of people to leave their homes in the US to return to El Salvador, an unsafe country plagued by gang and drug violence, natural disasters, and poverty.”
She continued, “Oxfam calls on the Trump administration to preserve TPS for all countries with that designation, including El Salvador, due to the continuing lack of safe conditions and the government’s ability to protect returnees. We also call on Congress to pass legislation creating a path to citizenship for all TPS holders, so they may be protected from harm in their country of origin.”
Notes to the editor:
The Department of Homeland Security granted El Salvador TPS following powerful earthquakes and aftershocks in early 2001 that destroyed many parts of the country. In 2016, DHS renewed TPS for Salvadorans based on poor living conditions, an inability for the country to absorb returnees, multiple natural disasters, and food insecurity.
Communities in El Salvador face additional insecurity due to high rates of criminal drug and gang activity. A January 2016 poll cited by the US State Department Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) found that 24.5% of Salvadorans were victims of crime in 2015, including robberies, extortion, drug trafficking, thefts, homicide, and rape. El Salvador’s homicide rate was ranked the highest in Latin America, with 81.2 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2016, according to InSight Crime.
Salvadoran TPS holders are parents to an estimated 192,000 U.S.-citizen children who will either be abandoned or forced to return to El Salvador with their parents, facing increased risk of being targeted due to the inability to speak Spanish and unfamiliarity with the country.
The U.S. has allocated more than $1.3 billion dollars for the U.S. Strategy for Engagement with Central America since 2014, a figure that would rise to $1.8 billion with the Trump Administration’s budget. The stated goals of the strategy are to promote prosperity, security, and government. Ending TPS for Salvadorans will seriously undermine US foreign policy goals and undercut U.S. investment in the region.
Salvadorans also contribute significantly to the US economy. For example, approximately 90% percent of the Salvadoran TPS population is working in key areas for economic development in the U.S. such as construction, the restaurant industry, landscaping, hospitality, and health care and home care, especially for children. The Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Home Builders and other companies that will be affected by TPS ending, have lobbied the Trump administration to extend the TPS program.