Salvadorans Live through a Nightmare with Possible End of TPS

Rodman Serrano fears that his Salvadoran parents, who have lived in New York for 24 years, may lose their TPS and are once again put at risk of deportation. (Photo by Mariela Lombard via El Diario)

Rodman Serrano was born on Long Island 22 years ago and is a U.S citizen. However, the last few months have been terrible for him and his two teenage sisters. Their parents, both 51, are able to work here legally thanks to their Temporary Protected Status (TPS) but may end up in limbo if Donald Trump’s administration does not renew this immigration relief for Salvadorans – which currently protects them until March 2018 – in the coming months.

Their anxiety reached new heights early this week when new Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly announced an extension of TPS for Haitians only for six months, stating that it is enough time for people to make arrangements and plan their safe return to the Caribbean island.

“If this happened to Haitians, then it could happen to us. That is the fear that parents and families like mine are facing: suddenly not having any more work permits or any protection from being deported,” said Serrano. He is studying to be a teacher and will graduate next year.

“My parents are very worried, particularly for my sisters, who are younger,” said the Long Island native. “Just imagining that they will no longer be in our lives is a nightmare to all of us, especially knowing that, if they are sent back to a country like El Salvador, where there is no job security and where there is so much violence, it will be like sending them back into the shadows and sentencing them to death. They would die over there.”

“They know where we live”

Juan Ayala, who has been a beneficiary of TPS since President George W. Bush first granted it in 2010, shares Serrano’s fears, adding that, if the current administration chooses to end this relief for his fellow Salvadorans, they will become an easy prey for “la migra.”

“If they take the TPS away, they will deport us quickly because they have all our information, they know where we live, what we do and who we are,” said the father, who is afraid that the impact might be harder on his teenage children. “We have tried to build a life here by working hard, and suddenly having to go back and take the kids, who know nothing about El Salvador, or going underground instead would be torture and a nightmare.”

Maryann Sinclair Slutsky, executive director of the Long Island Wins organization, which assists immigrants coming from El Salvador escaping violence, said that the federal government’s intention to end TPS would be the beginning of large-scale chaos.

“If Long Island lost a significant part of its Salvadoran community, that would unravel an economic recession, not to mention the trauma it would cause families to be separated,” said the activist, pointing out that TPS has allowed thousands of Salvadorans to put down roots on Long Island. “No family can go on building their lives with this fear and uncertainty about their status.”

While they await an announcement from the Trump administration about the future of TPS for Salvadorans, Long Island activists and advocates said that they will continue to demonstrate the way they did on May 18 at a protest promoted by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM).

“Without TPS, families will be forced to return to countries that are not prepared to welcome them and that are facing violence and humanitarian crises,” said Jasmine Nazarett, an activist with FIRM. “Immigrants of all origins will remain united against hatred and intolerance.”

Suffolk County Legislator Mónica Martínez made a request to the federal government to act fairly and not only renew TPS for 18 months for Salvadorans but also for Hondurans, Nicaraguans and Haitians.

“We call on the Trump administration to stop the persecution and psychological terror they are inflicting on millions of honest immigrants. We demand the approval of the TPS renewal,”  said the Long Island politician, adding: “Enough with so much abuse from the Trump administration.”

Alliance with Haitians

Haitian-born Council member Mathieu Eugene called on the federal government to reconsider and grant an 18-month TPS extension for Salvadorans and Haitians, pointing out that it is necessary to continue fighting to make the Trump administration change their position.

“We must be united with all our allies and the community organizations so that TPS is not ended, because immigrants are immigrants, regardless of where they came from; their suffering is the same,” said the politician.

Even though he rejected the way “Trump continues to spread fear” by threatening to take the protected status away from Salvadorans, Council member Mark Levine reminded Central Americans that, if the federal administration turns their back on them, New York is ready to defend them.

“This creates more fear among Salvadorans, who in many cases have come here running away from violence in their country. We want them to know that this is their city, that we want them here and that, regardless of what Trump says, we will fight to protect them the way they deserve,” said Levine.

“Trump must stop attacking all immigrants, and I demand that he stops this attack on Salvadorans and on the TPS program now. […] It needs to be extended because that is the right thing to do. We don’t want to see happening to them what just happened to Haitians,” said the council member.

TPS for Salvadorans in numbers

  • March 9, 2018 – TPS expires for Salvadorans.
  • Sept. 9, 2017 – Current work permits expire.
  • 500,000 Salvadorans live in the tri-state area.
  • 57,000 live on Long Island.
  • Nassau and Suffolk Counties have the highest concentration of Salvadorans.
  • 1,649,000 Salvadorans live in the United States.
  • After Los Angeles, Long Island, New York, has the highest concentration of Salvadorans in the U.S.
  • According to the Pew Research Center, Salvadorans are the fourth largest Latino minority in the country.
  • The organization Entrepreneurs for Change estimates that more than 50 percent of all small businesses in the areas of Brentwood and Hempstead are owned by Salvadorans.

One Comment

  1. jovita villalpando says:

    I demanda tsk tsk!

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