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Guest commentary: For the stability of our people
Department of Homeland Security officials participate in a meeting to discuss an extension of Temporary Protection Status, a measure that benefits 190,000 Salvadorans who live in the United States, and is set to expire on March 8, 2018. Courtesy: Department of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador

The government of president Salvador Sánchez Cerén considers the immigration issue a priority of its foreign policy—especially in its bilateral agenda with the United States.

Consistent with this, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched a comprehensive strategy in November 2016, for the protection of the rights of our brothers, and has also advocated for their stability in the United Stations.

This strategy includes actions and alliances at the national and regional levels and, of course, before local, state and federal authorities of the United States. Now we are at a crucial stage, in which we will double our efforts around two relevant negotiations for more than 200,000 Salvadorans.

I’m referring on one hand to the new extension for the Temporary Protected Status (TBS), a benefit that 190,000 compatriots, who arrived in the United States before the earthquake of 2001 in El Salvador, now enjoy; and on the other, the negotiations to find a solution for the DREAMers, young people who arrived as kids to this country and that, since 2012, have been protected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

In the case of TPS, we are talking about a segment that, during the span of 16 years, has lived in harmony with the communities that have welcomed them and in full respect of the laws, contributing to its social, cultural and economic dynamics. In fact, it is estimated that 90 percent of Salvadorans with TPS are part of the nation’s labor force, 50 percent of them are subject to credits, and contribute annual taxes of about $500 million to MediCare and Social Security.

It is precisely in our formal request to the Department of Homeland Security on August 24, that we presented all this invaluable contribution, which we hope will be well considered by the respective authorities. And likewise, with Congress we are advocating for other alternatives to be valued so that permanent regular status for our nationals can be achieved.

In the case of the DREAMers, it’s about 30,000 young compatriots who emigrated before the age of 16, who have grown up in the United States, who have formed or are still forming in their educational institutions, and most of them are already contributing their knowledge to the labor market.

The end of DACA, within the next six months, does not mean an immediate deportation of this population, but calls the U.S. Congress to seek a legislative exit in that period. That is another reason to focus much of our efforts on congressmen and senators, so that we can pay in this task to ensure their permanence in said country.

In this context, our recent visits to Washington D.C. have also been instrumental in strengthening the alliances we have been developing to achieve our goal, with organizations working for immigrants, local authorities, churches and even business owners employing TPS Salvadorans.

That is the spirit with which we find ourselves again in the U.S. capital, in a visit to which we have invited to join members of the Legislative Assembly, so that with one voice we continue this important work that, as we have said, demands the unity of all Salvadorans.

It is with all our efforts and a real commitment that we will continue to work tirelessly for the stability of our TPS population and their families in El Salvador, as well as our young dreamers.

Story by: Hugo Martínez, Foreign Affairs of El Salvador