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What Salvadoran immigrants can do after the end of their temporary immigration protection

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FILE: A woman walks past a mural commemorating slain El Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero near 
Vermont Avenue and Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, a Salvadoran community hub known as "Monseñor Oscar Romero Square," More than 260,000 Salvadoran immigrants in the United States are set to lose their protection from deportation under Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, a program that lets some immigrants from a handful of nations beset by crises like natural disaster or war live and work in the U.S. legally on a renewable basis. The Trump administration has announced that TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Haiti will lose their protection in early 2018.
Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC
A woman walks past a mural commemorating slain El Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero near Vermont Avenue and Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, a Salvadoran community hub known as "Monseñor Oscar Romero Square."

They can apply for a green card, for example. And if a deportation happens, the process can take up to five years.

The Trump administration announced that it's ending protections for Salvadorans who came to the U.S. after quakes struck their country in 2001. About 30,000 immigrants in Los Angeles benefit from this program, called Temporary Protected Status or TPS. They now have until September 2019 to get their affairs in order.

Yanci Montes, an immigration attorney in L.A., has been assisting those who've built up lives and families in the U.S. and wish to stay.

"Half of these TPS recipients qualify for some sort of alternative relief to remain here in the United States legally," she says.

Some of those people include:

  • Those who entered the country on a visa or tourist visa.
  • People who are either married a U.S. citizen or have lawful permanent residency in the U.S.; they may apply for a green card.
  • Victims of a crime in the U.S.
  • Those with children actively serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.


Montes she notes that anyone who faces deportation can still get due process through what's known as the removal proceedings process.

"This process can take up to three to five years where you can fight your case before an immigration judge," she says. "People have rights.

She recommends, however, that all TPS recipients consult with an attorney to determine their eligibility to stay.

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