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IRC denounces Trump Administration decision on El Salvador TPS; announces return to humanitarian work in the country

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  • IRC is now supporting and building the know-how of Salvadoran national civil society groups to respond to the protection and humanitarian needs of families forced into internal displacement by gang violence.
  • IRC urges the administration and Congress to protect TPS holders from El Salvador and work toward a sustainable solution.
  • IRC’s work in El Salvador includes providing IRC's technical expertise in women's protection and children's protection, delivering cash for basic needs, and support for protection and rule of law activities.
  • In the past, IRC field offices across the United States have helped Salvadorans receive and renew their TPS status and have witnessed first-hand their positive contributions to local communities.
  • The IRC has also helped more than 1,500 Salvadoran TPS holders to bring their at-risk children to the United States through the Central American Minors (CAM) resettlement program, which was recently cancelled by the Trump Administration.

The Trump Administration announced today that it will terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador by September 9, 2019, placing in jeopardy approximately 200,000 Salvadorans who will be at risk of expulsion back to highly precarious and unsafe conditions. This cruel decision not only puts at risk 200,000 law-abiding, contributing members of our communities, but it also has devastating impacts on their families here, especially their children. If 200,000 Salvadorans are deported, they would have to make the impossible choice of whether to tear their families apart and leave behind their 192,700 U.S. citizen children or bring them to an unknown country where they would be in danger. Separating families serves no one’s interest. 

As the IRC responds to the humanitarian crisis in El Salvador, we urge the Trump Administration to do the right thing and reconsider its decision to place 200,000 TPS holders at risk of expulsion. We further call upon Congress to do what is best for our neighbors, our communities, and our national interest by creating a pathway to residency for TPS holders from El Salvador. This cruel decision means that Congress must now act to prevent devastating consequences to families, our communities and an already unstable region.

In 2015 and 2016, El Salvador was ranked the world’s most dangerous country. The capital, San Salvador, has the highest homicide rate globally. In 2017, there was an average of 10.8 homicides per day in El Salvador – a conservative figure and one that does not account for disappearances. Gangs operate with impunity throughout the country and kidnapping, extortion and homicide are widespread. The danger that individuals, families, and communities face in El Salvador has sparked an internal displacement crisis, with an estimated 200,000-300,000 Salvadorans displaced each year. Because the government does not officially recognize people internally displaced by violence, there are no official internally displaced population (IDP) registration statistics, and estimates vary. Conservative estimates place the known IDP population around at least 288,900 people displaced from their homes who have fled to other parts of El Salvador, though some civil society experts place the figure closer to half a million. At the same time, many of those who are forcibly displaced each year flee across borders, in an attempt to find safety and seek asylum in countries throughout the region, including the U.S., Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica and Panama.  

Levels of violence in El Salvador today are akin to those in the most deadly conflict zones around the world. Compelled by the devastating impact of this violence on families and entire communities, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is in the process of re-registering a field office in El Salvador, more than two decades after responding to large-scale displacement caused by civil conflict there. 

With no relief in sight, El Salvador is experiencing the largest displacement crisis close the United States in the most violent region of the world not at war. The socioeconomic situation in El Salvador shows no indications of improvement, and the IDP and refugee crisis is only growing. The expulsion of approximately 200,000 Salvadorans would put these individuals at high risk – returning to communities that they are no longer part of after decades in the United States – and further destabilize the country. In the meantime, over 200,000 Salvadoran TPS holders have become integral and contributing members of our communities, raising families, actively participating in faith communities, paying taxes, and playing a critical role in our economy, like other TPS holders. 

These factors taken together point to the critical necessity for Congress to create a pathway to lawful permanent residency for this population, and until that time it is equally critical that the Administration continue to extend TPS to ensure their safety.   

IRC field offices across the United States have helped Salvadorans receive and renew their TPS status and have witnessed first-hand their positive contributions to local communities. The IRC has also helped more than 1,500 Salvadoran TPS holders to bring their at-risk children to the United States through the Central American Minors resettlement program, which was recently cancelled by the Trump Administration. 

The public statement made by Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen announcing the TPS termination makes clear that the decision is justified on the basis that the original conditions upon which TPS was granted – related to natural disaster – no longer exists. For a Salvadoran family – facing the prospects of expulsion back to a country plagued by gang violence, where their children will not be able to safely attend school and are at risk of sexual violence or forced recruitment at the hands of gangs – that completely misses the point. The fact is that El Salvador’s objective conditions today do not allow for safe return, and would be profoundly destabilizing to El Salvador – both from the strain placed on receiving communities and government services, but also as critical remittances are taken away. These wider impacts are clearly contrary to American interest in regional stability and security.

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.