DACA Fallout: Salvadorans Fret for TPS’ Future

Consul general Ana Lorena Siria de Lara of El Salvador (Photo via Reporte Hispano)

On March 9, 2018, four days after the end of DACA, El Salvador’s temporary protected status (TPS) is set to expire, and the community cannot hide its concern about the possibility that the Trump administration may cancel it.

Salvadoran-born Marta Fuentes, who lives in Hudson County, and her husband, a commercial truck driver, had finally made up their mind to buy a house in September. However, the uncertainty brought about by the TPS situation made them halt the investment.

“We already had the down payment on a house in Union City. We had crunched the numbers and were able to pay for it,” said Fuentes as she pays attention to a woman selling pots and pans. “As you can imagine, business owners like us don’t know what we are going to do. We won’t be able to manage.”

She keeps walking, her head down, worried, holding the hand of her son of around 18 years of age. Yet another family that may end up broken if TPS ends.

Others don’t show their pain. Nicolás Rivera, from the Morazán province, is not a TPS beneficiary, but some of his relatives may be in danger.

Still, he says, “they are OK. They are not alarmed about anything. There is nothing serious going on yet. Nothing is conclusive.”

The country’s consul general, Ana Lorena Siria de Lara, insists that Salvadorans have made good use of TPS.

“Thanks to TPS, many of them have been able to start businesses, found jobs occupying important positions, paid taxes and contributed to this country in a significant manner.”

She added that her compatriots in Houston, Texas, affected by Hurricane Harvey have received help from the local consulate and that there are no reports of a Salvadoran migration from Houston to New Jersey.

While the question of whether they can stay in the U.S. or not is solved at the federal level, some organizations in the state have been getting ready.

Blanca Molina, executive director of CEUS, said that nearly 10 percent of the [what she estimates to be as many as] 100,000 Salvadorans living in New Jersey are beneficiaries of the TPS. [According to the U. S. Census bureau 2015 American Community Survey, there are an estimated 67,000 Salvadorans in New Jersey.] Across the nation, 190,000 Salvadorans out of a population of 2 million have the status.

For the time being, many “Guanacos” – an affectionate nickname Salvadorans use to refer to themselves – are able to obtain residency in the U.S. on certain conditions.

A high percentage of Salvadorans who have obtained TPS have been able to legalize their situation through marriage, while others have done so through their U.S.-born children.

“There is a clause, passed last year, stating that people with TPS can get legal documents if they are married to a U.S. citizen, particularly if they have left the country with an entry and exit permit. That eliminates the fact that they were in the U.S. illegally,” said Molina.

In late August, El Salvador Chancellor Hugo Martínez delivered a petition in Washington to extend TPS, but he has yet to receive an affirmative answer.

Nicaragua and Honduras’ TPS expires on Jan. 5, 2018, and Haiti’s on Jan. 22.

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