Immigration authorities on Monday granted Salvadoran immigrants with protected status an additional year to return to El Salvador before being subject to deportation.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and El Salvador’s foreign minister signed an agreement granting a one year reprieve to about 200,000 Salvadorans who reside in the U.S. under the Temporary Protected Status program, which grants temporary residence to immigrants fleeing armed conflict or natural disaster in their home countries.
As part of the agreement, El Salvador has agreed to work with U.S. immigration authorities to ramp up its efforts to stanch the flow of migrants attempting to leave the violence-stricken country to cross the U.S. southern border illegally.
“Work permits for Salvadorans will be extended for 1 year past resolution of litigation for an orderly wind down period,” Acting Director of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli said of the extension.
The Trump administration originally attempted to shutter the TPS program, which protects more than 300,000 migrants from Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras and Sudan from deportation, saying the conditions in El Salvador have improved since 2001. However, a federal courts blocked the program’s dissolution, saying it would cause “irreparable harm and great hardship” to participants.
Earlier this month, the administration announced that it will restore about $150 million in economic aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras after reaching deals on immigration in recent months with the three countries.
In July, the U.S. signed a “safe third country” agreement with Guatemala, which stipulates that the U.S. may send away asylum seekers who have passed through Guatemala without attempting to obtain asylum there first. The U.S. has signed less specific deals with El Salvador and Honduras pledging to work together to address the heavy migration flow.
Salvadorans in the U.S. were granted temporary protected status after two earthquakes ravaged the country in 2001. The country also has one of the highest homicide rates globally.