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US Trump administration extends TPS for Salvadorans, allowing thousands to stay in U.S.

19:50  28 october  2019
19:50  28 october  2019 Source:   latimes.com

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The Trump administration on Monday extended Temporary Protected Status for thousands of Salvadorans in the United States, granting them reprieve from removal to El Salvador.

A woman is attended at the Labor Ministry after the government announced it was negotiating a temporary U.S. farm work visa program, in San Salvador, El Salvador, Monday, July 29, 2019. Salvadorans who had waited in line for U.S. work visas started heading back to their hometowns Monday after learning the program wasn't ready yet.© Salvador Melendez/AP Photo A woman is attended at the Labor Ministry after the government announced it was negotiating a temporary U.S. farm work visa program, in San Salvador, El Salvador, Monday, July 29, 2019. Salvadorans who had waited in line for U.S. work visas started heading back to their hometowns Monday after learning the program wasn't ready yet.

Administration officials have insisted for weeks that the continuance of TPS was not on the table in exchange for the resumption of aid to the small Central American country, or the signing of a recent agreement on asylum seekers. An estimated 200,000 Salvadorans in the U.S. have TPS, making them the largest single group under the program. Many live in Los Angeles.

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El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele, a millionaire millennial who has had warm words for President Trump and his officials, touted the move in an announcement on Twitter Monday morning as a victory for his newly-elected administration.

"They said it was impossible," Bukele said. "That the Salvadoran government couldn't do anything ... But we knew that our allies would not abandon us."

A U.S. District Court in Northern California last October blocked the Department of Homeland Security from terminating TPS for El Salvador and a handful of other countries. Administration officials have sought to dismantle the program as part of their wider efforts to reduce immigration. TPS offers recipients protection from removal and the right to work legally in the U.S.

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The announcement also puts the U.S. in the difficult position of extending a program intended for people fleeing natural disasters or civil unrest, while at the same time effectively designating El Salvador a safe country for asylum seekers. The State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Officials have offered little detail of the U.S. asylum agreement with El Salvador, which has yet to take effect. The deal was among several extensively negotiated with Northern Triangle countries by outgoing acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, who is due to step down this week.

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