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Options For Colorado's Salvadoran Community ‘Positive’ Following Protection Rollback, Leaders Say

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Courtesy Foundatoin for Cultural Exchange, El Salvador
Anna Stout, president of Grand Junction-based Foundation for Cultural Exchange meets with a scholarship recipient in El Espino, El Salvador. The Colorado organization works to provide educational opportunities to Salvadorans.

The Trump Administration has ended special protections for about 200,000 people from El Salvador living in the United States. They now have 18 months to figure out another way to remain in the country legally or face deportation.  

On Monday, Dec. 8, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced it would end the Temporary Protected Status, known as TPS, for people fleeing the small Central American country of six million in September 2019. The U.S. originally granted protections to Salvadorans following two earthquakes that roiled the country in 2001.

This week’s decision came after homeland security officials determined the dangerous, disaster-related conditions no longer existed in El Salvador, according to a statement.

 

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Credit Google Maps
El Salvador, center, is the most densely populated country in Central America. In 2001, its citizens were awarded Temporary Protection Status by the U.S. government after two devastating earthquakes.

Leaders in Colorado’s Salvadoran community said they anticipated the administration’s latest immigration policy move and were already taking action to help those who wish to continue working and living in the country.

José Manuel Castillo, Colorado’s El Salvador consul said his office was optimistic about the potential for immigrants with TPS status to remain.

“Of course people are feeling a little negative about what is going to happen with this program officially finished,” he said. “But we’re trying to express a more positive message. We have all this time to renew conditions of everyone’s case.”

According to Castillo, more than 40,000 people with roots in El Salvador live and work in Colorado. However, the local consulate does not keep track of how many have TPS.

Castillo said his office would hold multiple forums and informational sessions.

Rene Mejia, a Lakewood resident and vice president of the Salvadoran Association of Colorado, said the decision affects people who work multiple jobs, run small businesses and own homes.

“What do I think about Mr. Trump terminating the TPS?” he said. “This is an issue that’s going to affect a lot of families who have been here for years.”

According to the Department of Homeland Security, Salvadorans in the U.S. with TPS protections may still apply for and receive other protections under the current immigration system.