The announcement that Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Salvadorans is being terminated provokes the hope that this practice of temporary amnesty will cease to be abused with extension after extension until it becomes virtually a permanent status. However, the announcement is marred by the statement that the termination is being accompanied with a delay designed to give Congress time to adopt a permanent amnesty for the Salvadorans who have been in TPS status for 17 years.
That is a worrisome prospect. Our immigration history shows that each amnesty tends to weaken the ability of the immigration law to deter illegal immigration. Congress needs to avoid another amnesty both for the so called “dreamers” as well as for former TPS beneficiaries.
But, there is a change that Congress could make that would be worthwhile. Most of the about 200,000 Salvadoran TPS beneficiaries were living in the United States illegally when hurricanes hit El Salvador in 2001. Thus, they had no intent of returning to El Salvador as soon as conditions allowed, and giving them legal work status was inappropriate. And they still are unlikely to obey the law and leave the country.
To correct this abuse of the TPS status, Congress, could change the law to specify that only two cases of foreigners may benefit from TPS. The first case would be nationals of countries with natural disasters or civil disturbances who are legally in the United States as nonimmigrants. TPS was designed for those visitors and students. The second case would be nationals of those same countries who are illegally in the country and are subject to a deportation order. This latter class would be subject to expedited deportation as soon as conditions in the home country allowed. Their residence information required to file for TPS protection would allow immigration agents to take them into custody for their deportation when TPS ended.