SAN SALVADOR – The Salvadoran government would turn to the US Congress for a solution if the Department of Homeland Security were to refuse to allow 190,000 of the Salvadorans in the US to continue benefitting from Temporary Protected Status, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday.
Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez said at a press conference that the DHS decision “will not be determinative and other routes exist that we can take.”
“Things don’t end with a decision taken by the Department of Homeland Security, but rather a third phase begins that means going to the Congress of the United States to achieve a definitive solution for our countrymen who are protected under TPS,” Martinez said.
The foreign minister said that the US Congress already has two bills drafted whereby people protected under TPS may opt to obtain legal residence.
“We’re studying the drafts of those two proposals, which are bills to build a road leading to those protected under TPS being able to opt for residence and this being the definitive solution to the problem,” he said.
He also said that the Salvadoran government “has alternative contingency plans prepared for different scenarios, which are optimistic, moderate or pessimistic, but it will not present any plan until it knows the US decision.”
Martinez added that his recent working visit to the US was “very fruitful” and that the DHS decision, according to his analysis of the meetings with top DHS officials, “would basically be focused on (El Salvador’s) situation and on the historic ties of friendship that unite the two countries.”
It is expected that on Monday the US government will announced its decision on TPS for Salvadorans, Nicaraguans and Hondurans.
According to a report prepared by the Center for American Progress (CAP), the US would lose $164 billion of its GDP in the next 10 years if TPS beneficiaries left the labor force.
The document forecast that there are more than 300,000 people protected under TPS who cannot safely return to their homelands, whether that is due to armed conflict there or natural disasters.
The 2.8 million Salvadorans living in the US in 2016 sent to El Salvador a total of $4.576 billion in remittances, the highest figure in the history of the Central American country and one representing 17.1 percent of its GDP.