It’s easy to have sympathy for some 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants who now face possible deportation, and yet still acknowledge that the events that allowed them their special refugee status were in 2001.
El Salvador remains a crime-ridden, dysfunctional country that is perpetually unable to provide a stable environment for its people. In that, it is hardly alone on this planet. But when earthquakes hit in 2001, the U.S. granted special status to many who were able to flee, allowing them to basically “cut the line” of our immigration system.
As recently as September 2016, the Obama administration certified that El Salvador was still unable to accept such a large group of returning citizens.
And late last week their nation’s president implored Homeland Security Secretary to allow more time for Congress to come up with a fix that would allow his citizens to stay here.
The sad fact is that many people in El Salvador are dependent on the cash flow from relatives living in the U.S. — hence the plea from their own president.
Immigrants from Haiti, Nicaragua and South Sudan, who came in under the same kind of disaster relief program, have already been put on notice that their special status will end over the next 18 months or so. Honduras, which has some 50,000 emigres here, is likely next on Nielsen’s list.
It has been a poorly kept secret under at least three presidents that the special program (adopted by Congress in 1990) is yet another end run around a real immigration fix. A humanitarian carve-out here, a temporary program there and Congress has saved itself the difficult job of coming up with actual legislation that would provide a long-term solution and set policy.
Many of those caught up in the current controversy would likely qualify to remain under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, if only Congress would come up with a permanent fix for that.
America needs its immigrants just as much as they need a safe haven from the countries they have left. The legal limbo of temporary programs isn’t fair to them or to the nation they have adopted.
— The Boston Herald,