If it is Monday, the Trump administration must be ordering another group of refugees to leave the country.
Having ordered Haitians and Nicaraguans who have spent years in the U.S. under the Temporary Protected Status visa program to return to their home countries voluntarily or be forcibly deported, the administration is now doing the same to approximately 200,000 Salvadorans. From The New York Times:
Temporary protections were granted to Salvadorans who were in the United States in March 2001 after two earthquakes in January and February of that year killed more than 1,000 people and destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes. Over the next 15 years, the George W. Bush and Obama administrations extended the protections several times.
Many of these Salvadorans have spent the past 17 years working, paying taxes, starting families, and becoming contributing members of American society. Now the Trump administration has given them until September of 2019 to either obtain permanent legal status or self-deport back to El Salvador or some other country. Those with children who were born here — and are thus American citizens — will have to either abandon them or take them to a country they have never known.
The administration argues that Temporary Protected Status was never meant as a permanent solution, even if the situation in other countries from which refugees have fled have not improved:
In 2016, the final time, the government cited several factors, including drought, poverty and widespread gang violence in El Salvador, as reasons to keep the protections in place.
Much of the gang violence in El Salvador is attributed to MS-13, the street gang that has thousands of members in the U.S. Some Salvadorans in the country, both legally and illegally, have come to the U.S. to escape MS-13, only to be caught up in the gang's grip. It is the neighborhoods in which these people live where Trump and his advisers have claimed people are being “slaughtered” at the hands of this violent gang.
The president has often bragged in speeches that his administration is rolling up MS-13 and sending any members here illegally back to El Salvador in order to make America safer for those who live in those neighborhoods.
Now with this revocation of Temporary Protected Status for Salvadorans, by his own logic, he is sending some of the same people he claimed to be saving back to the same nation to which he is sending these supposedly ultra-violent gang members, where there is less law enforcement. Rather than making the U.S. safe for the people most at risk from this allegedly bloodthirsty gang, even if they are American citizens, Trump is trying to completely wash his hands of as many Salvadorans as he can.
This is an incoherent message to send — unless you view the situation through the president's own documented history of racism and virulent anti-immigration views. Then it makes perfect sense.
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Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.