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By David M. Sperling

As expected, the Trump administration is terminating TPS status for nearly 200,000 Salvadorans.

     Despite scary headlines and partisan outrage,  this could be a tremendous opportunity for the immigrant community.

      First of all, the government has authorized a  final 18-month renewal period for Salvadorans  to an “orderly transition” and also to give Congress the opportunity to pass legislation to provide TPS beneficiaries with a much-deserved path to citizenship.

    In the meantime,  the vast majority of Salvadoran and other TPS beneficiaries  are eligible for other forms of immigration relief, particularly asylum.

    Only an immigration judge can order deportation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can only enforce a pre-existing order. Virtually everyone who does NOT have a deportation order has the right to pursue a remedy in the overburdened Immigration Court, a process that will take at least several years.

    Salvadoran (and Honduran) TPS beneficiaries have resided in the United States for an average of more than 20 years, and a large majority have U.S. Citizen children.  Once a U.S. Citizen child turns 21, he or she can petition for their parents to obtain a Green Card without leaving the United States.  The same is true for a TPS beneficiary married to a U.S. Citizen. Our law office has obtained Green Cards for hundreds of TPS beneficiaries in this manner.

     TPS beneficiaries who are at greatest risk are those with a pre-exisitng order of deportation, along with a criminal record or association with gang members. However, Salvadoran TPS beneficiaries have been subject to security checks  since the program’s inception in 2001, and the vast majority have clean records.

     Nobody expected that Temporary Protected Status would last so long.  TPS beneficiaries are the most qualified and meritorious subset of immigrants in the United States.

   This is not the time to rant and rage. It is time to build a strong immigration coalition to put pressure on Congress to enact a permanent solution.


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