On Monday, January 9, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) announced that the Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) designation for El Salvador would be terminated. This decision to end the designation was made in spite of substantial evidence documenting El Salvador’s problems with gang and gender-based violence, which have only worsened since the country first received the TPS designation after two devastating earthquakes back in 2001.
There are currently an estimated 200,000 Salvadorans with TPS status. They have held this status, and have relied upon the protection and work authorization that comes with it, for nearly two decades. They have built their lives and started families here. The decision to terminate the TPS designation will not only directly impact each of these 200,000 Salvadorans who will be at risk of deportation if they have no other legal avenue to stay in the U.S., but will tear apart countless families, separating an unthinkable number of U.S. citizen children from their parents.
If you or someone you know is impacted by this recent decision to terminate the TPS designation for El Salvador, here are 3 things you need to know:
1. The Termination Does Not Take Effect Until September 9, 2019
According to the DHS, in order to allow for “an orderly transition,” the termination of El Salvador’s TPS designation will not take effect for another 18 months, officially ending on September 9, 2019. However, individuals with TPS status must be proactive. Each individual must re-apply for the status once instructions are released. Failure to renew the status will result in the loss of the protections and work authorization associated with said status. Salvadorans with TPS status wishing to renew their status should speak to a qualified representative immediately.
2. Other Forms of Relief May be Available
One potential pathway to a form of relief is Congressional action. Multiple bills have been introduced that would provide for a pathway to some form of legal status for individuals with TPS. However, Congressional action is not guaranteed and those with TPS should not put all of their eggs in this basket. Instead, anyone with TPS should speak with an immigration attorney to see if they have another form of relief available to them.
Without some action by the Congress, once the TPS designation for El Salvador terminates on September 9, 2019, individual Salvadorans with TPS status will revert back to whatever status they had prior to receiving TPS. Each individual effected by the termination should speak to a reputable immigration attorney to see if there they qualify for any alternative forms of relief. Various forms of relief that might be available include asylum, family- or employment-based adjustment, or protection under the Violence against Women Act, just to name a few.
3. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to Act
Eighteen months might seem like enough time to put off evaluating your options for a while, but do not procrastinate – speak to a reputable immigration attorney as soon as possible. If you do have a form of relief available to you, as discussed above, it could take a year or more to get all of the required documentation together, submit the required application, and receive a decision. Don’t risk being without status on September 9, 2019, if there is an alternative form of relief available to you.
Those who do not qualify for an alternative form of relief will also want to know right away. Individuals with no available alternatives should begin considering how to best prepare for the eventual – deportation. Planning includes not only securing your finances, but determining what to do with any assets you might own, how to wrap up any business affairs, and family planning such as the best avenue for you to ensure your children are taken care of in case you are removed from the United States.