The Trump administration’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status for 200,000 Salvadorans who have been in the country since 2001 after a massive earthquake has been met with disbelief by Latino advocacy groups in Connecticut and on Long island.
Julio López Varona, director for the Bridgeport-based immigrant rights organization Make the Road Connecticut, says many Salvadorans have been here for more than a decade and would have to leave their families and return to a dangerous, poverty-stricken country.
“Many people have built their lives here. They’d come back to a country that has been destroyed, that is still struggling to reconstruct itself, so for many of them it’s just gonna be about unemployment, and extreme poverty, and just suffering through a displacement from the place that you knew.”
Varona says his group will help Salvadorans get in contact with lawyers to help get their affairs in order, but "it still comes as a shock that this administration has just literally closed the door on them.”
Minerva Perez, executive director of the Organization Latino Americana, or OLA, of Eastern Long Island, wonders how El Salvador will absorb 200,000 people, “given the fact that there is still acute food, and water, and housing shortages, given the fact gang violence has reached an unprecedented level, it’s unfair to believe that those people are not going to be harmed.”
Perez says thousands of families on Long Island will either be torn apart, or forced to go underground. And, going underground is hard in Suffolk County, where there is very little public transportation.
“It’s much more difficult now to be driving without a license. It’s not a smart thing to do, and it could be the reason why you end up on ICE radar.”
The Trump administration has also revoked TPS for people from Haiti and Nicaragua, and is reviewing TPS status for Hondurans.