NV Indep.: Future of thousands of Salvadorians hangs on Trump Administration decision on TPS program, expected Monday

Jan 8, 2018
In The News

Nearly 200,000 immigrants from El Salvador — some of whom have lived in the U.S. for more than two decades — expect to learn Monday whether they’ll be obligated to leave the country because of the cancellation of the Temporary Protected Status program.

Since a devastating earthquake hit the Central American country in 2001, the TPS program has offered Salvadorans protection from deportation and permission to work in the U.S. rather than returning to their homeland. The status doesn’t offer a pathway to legal permanent residency or citizenship and is now subject to the discretion of the Trump Administration, which has moved to scale back the program for others among the 10 participating countries.

“This administration’s anti-immigrant and xenophobic agenda threatens the livelihoods of thousands of immigrants who have come to call Nevada home,” said Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen, one lawmaker who is calling for a long-term solution for program beneficiaries. “TPS recipients are also mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, neighbors and friends, and they have built their lives here in Nevada … Allowing TPS to expire would uproot people from their homes, destroy families and will harm communities.”

In Nevada, nearly 7,000 people benefit from the TPS program, which has covered people from Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen — countries that have been affected by epidemics, armed conflict and natural disasters.

One of those is Elda Membreno, who’s lived in Las Vegas for 14 years and, like her daughter has participated in the TPS program since it was extended to El Salvador in 2001. She joined in a lunch meeting with Rosen on Thursday and said that she was a single mother, is the breadwinner of her family and fears she’ll lose the benefits she’s gained when her TPS permit expires in March.

“I’ve been in this country for 17 years, I’ve paid my taxes and I’ve worked since I arrived,” Membreno said. “It wouldn’t be fair to my 14-year-old son and my 22-year-old daughter to send them back to our country. This would be inhumane for me.”

Membreno said that because of a case of sexual abuse in her family, both she and her daughter applied for a U-visa, which is given to immigrants who are victims of crime or domestic violence and can help authorities with prosecuting the offender.

Membreno said that this alternative would permit her to rectify her legal status in the U.S. for the short term. But while her case has been pending since 2013, she still hasn’t received answers from the authorities.

“I went to immigration officials and they told me to wait,” Membreno said. “But while I wait and they cancel TPS, what am I going to do? Right now I’m counting much more on TPS than a U-visa.”

Jose Echeverria, a native of El Salvador who has relied on TPS since 2001, also had that question.

Interviewed on Friday after participating during a pro-TPS press conference featuring Democratic Rep. Dina Titus, he said he didn’t know what would happen with his family, because he hadn’t returned to his country since he arrived in the U.S. and his children have never been there.

Echeverria said he’s not only worried about his status, but also for that of one of his children, who’s a beneficiary of the DACA program that was canceled in September. His other three children were born in the U.S.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “My children say they don’t want to return because they’ve never been there.”

An estimated 5,200 people in Nevada are the American-born children of TPS recipients from Haiti, El Salvador and Honduras, according to the Center for American Progress. The cancellation of the program could separate them from their parents.

Echeverria said that TPS has allowed him to work and pay his taxes, as well as support his family in the U.S. as well as in El Salvador. He financially sustains his parents, who still live there.

“I beg our congresspeople, the Senate and the president that they keep allowing us to stay in this country. We’re not delinquents. We came to fight for our families,” he said.