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Christian groups decry US policy change on Salvadorans as Episcopalians offer support

Posted on: January 12, 2018 11:16 AM
Dozens of people attend an event this week organised by the support group Crecen in Houston, Texas, to provide information and show support for those affected by the Trump administration’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, for Salvadorans.
Photo Credit: Crecan / Facebook

[Episcopal News Service, by David Paulsen] The US-based Episcopal Church and ecumenical partner organisations are calling on Congress to act if the Trump administration refuses to reconsider its decision to end immigration protections for nearly 200,000 Salvadorans who have for years been allowed to establish roots and raise families in American communities. At issue is the policy known as Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. The Trump administration has taken a hard line on the policy, saying it never was intended to offer immigrants permanent residency.

The status typically is granted to foreign nationals from countries suffering from natural disasters or wars. In November, the administration ordered an end to TPS for more than 50,000 Haitians by mid-2019. President Barack Obama had approved that TPS designation after a 2010 earthquake devastated Haiti.

Salvadorans have made up the largest group allowed to remain in the United States under TPS. The protection from deportation was granted to Salvadorans by President George W Bush in 2001 after an earthquake struck El Salvador. Now, Salvadorans will have until September 2019 to obtain legal permanent residency in the United States or leave the country.

“If there’s any group of people you can imagine wide agreement that they not be deported, it’s this set of people,” said Sarah Lawton, a lay leader in the Episcopal Diocese of California who has made outreach to Salvadorans “an issue of the heart for me” since the 1980s.

The Salvadoran families who are being assisted by religious groups in San Francisco are contributing members of the local community, said Lawton, a member of St John the Evangelist Episcopal Church. The families typically include hard-working parents and children who are US citizens because they were born in the States. For such families, the news on 8 January was devastating.

  • Click here to read David Paulsen’s in-depth report for the Episcopal News Service.

  • Click here to read our story from yesterday, about the response by Latin American churches.