Upward of 200,000 people who have built lives in the United States may be forced to return to a country they have not known in over a decade. The upheaval is due to the Trump administration’s decision to end the humanitarian program that provided temporary protected status for Salvadorans who sought refuge from the turmoil caused by the catastrophic earthquakes the country experienced in 2001.
UNO student Cesar Magana Linares is one of thousands of Nebraskans likely to be uprooted by the decision.
In an interview with KETV Omaha, Magana Linares said that he was only 2 years old when his family came to the United States. He is now on track to become a first-generation college graduate and hopes to pursue law school.
“I don’t know what it takes to survive in a country that has been deemed the most violent in the Western Hemisphere by several people that is also the slowest growing economy in Central America,” Magana Linares said to KETV. “It’s time that we get afforded the privileges of being at least permanent residents,” said Cesar. “We’re not asking for the moon.”
People from El Salvador are not the only ones feeling the devastation of President Donald Trump’s recent immigration policies. Temporary Protected Status has already been revoked for immigrants from Honduras, Haiti and Nicaragua. Like so many other immigrants who have constructed the modern United States, these are people who have woven their lives into the fabric of American society. They have worked, gone to school, bought homes, opened businesses and started families in a country that is now telling them to leave.
These policies aren’t just saying “go back, start over” they are sending people like Cesar Magana Linares into arguably the most dangerous country in the Americas, and leaving many families with a difficult decision to make. Some temporary protected status recipients have been in the United States for more than two decades, and during that time they’ve had children who are legally U.S. citizens. Parents are faced with the difficult decision of leaving their children behind or bringing them to one of the deadliest countries in the Western Hemisphere, and among one of the deadliest places in the world for women.
Figures reported in 2016 ranked El Salvador with the highest rate of homicide in the world, excluding countries experiencing war. This violence is mainly derived from gangs like MS-13, and some of those opposed to Trump’s decision argue that many of the 200,000 Salvadorans forced to go back would fall victim to this violence.
Trump has decided that it’s time for the United States to turn its back on people who call this country home. He has also decided to collapse the efforts the U.S. has made in El Salvador. Ending a program developed by the Obama Administration that would provide aid to Salvadoran children at risk of gang recruitment and violence.
The Temporary Protected Status was meant to be, well, temporary. Rather than deporting 200,000 individuals living the American dream, Congress could implement a path to citizenship. Because if the choice is between leaving family behind to return to an economically-ruined, gang-ridden country and living in the United States as an undocumented immigrant, Trump just added 200,000 people to the unauthorized population of the United States.