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How The Loss Of Workers From El Salvador Could Affect Houston’s Harvey Recovery

Now that thousands of immigrants from El Salvador are set to lose their temporary protected status, some business leaders are worried about the impact on the Houston economy

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.

A Trump Administration order could affect about 36,000 immigrants from El Salvador who live here in Texas. About 20,000 of those people are in the Houston area. Those immigrants are set to lose their protected status as of September 2019.

Among that immigrant workforce, an estimated 20% are in construction. Laura Murillo is president of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“This is the only thing many of them know,” said Murillo. “This is what they’ve done and so you’re getting someone who has already a skill set.”

According to a recent study, the deportation of Salvadoran immigrants could cost the U.S. economy about $1.8 billion. That includes lost productivity along with the taxes currently paid by those immigrants. Murillo also worries that if those immigrants have to leave there won’t be enough workers for Harvey recovery projects.

“Contrary to popular belief, there’s aren’t people standing in line trying to do that work,” said Murillo. “And if you’ve been part of this rebuilding of your home or property, you’d be the first to agree.”

And it’s not just the Harvey rebuilding that has Murillo concerned. She said the city also needs construction workers for other big projects, like freeway widening and new buildings in the Texas Medical Center.

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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