Houston pro-immigration groups decried Monday the Trump Administration's decision to the end the Temporary Protected Status, commonly known as TPS, for El Salvador.
The TPS designation was created in 2001, when George W. Bush was President, after the Central American country was hit by two major earthquakes.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says those disaster-related conditions no longer exist.
More than 30,000 Salvadorans live in Texas under TPS, according to a report from the Center for Migration Studies and only California has a higher population with that protected status.
Nelson Reyes, executive director of Houston's Central American Refugee Center –an organization which has vast experience assisting TPS recipients from El Salvador— told Houston Public Media that “all the future that these families had here, with kids born here, and any investment or work stability that they have, education and other things, now it’s, it’s gone.”
The TPS designation will expire in September of 2019.
In that regard, Reyes thinks it is possible some Salvadorans will choose to stay in the United States as undocumented immigrants because “it’s better to live here like that than in your own country where they’re gonna profile you because you’ve been living here for so many years.”
Reyes explained that, back in their home country, Salvadorans who have lived in the U.S. could be targeted by people who think they have made money while they lived in our country.
Reyes also argued the government's decision to end the protected status is worrisome because El Salvador “has a lot of violence.”
That is also one of the arguments expressed by the Houston-based organization Immigrant Families and Students in the Struggle, known as FIEL by its acronym in Spanish.
César Espinosa, FIEL's founder and executive director, said in a statement his organization is “deeply saddened” and added that ending TPS for Salvadorans is “inhumane.”
Houston mayor Sylvester Turner was also critical of the Trump Administration's decision and said in a statement that to end the TPS designation for Salvadorans “goes against our long-cherished values as a welcoming city to everyone who comes here to work hard and contribute to Houston's vibrant economy.”
Mayor Turner’s statement added that “the program was designed to protect people who are vulnerable because of the dangers they face in their homeland” and urged the government to reconsider its decision. “And if it does not, I urge Congress to reverse it,” mayor Turner’s statement concluded.
U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee was another politician who lamented the decision, which she categorized as “thoughtless and cruel.”
Jackson Lee, who is a Democrat and represents Texas' 18th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, commented in a statement that “the conditions in El Salvador clearly merit continuing TPS coverage” and added that Congress must pass “bipartisan comprehensive legislation to reform our system of immigration, and provide meaningful relief to El Salvador and all other similarly situated countries.”
Mayor's statement on removal of TPS for the 19,000 Houstonians from El Salvador who will be affected by this: pic.twitter.com/XDjWHfqaOQ
— Leah Binkovitz (@leahbink) January 8, 2018