The United States government said Monday that it will cancel permits allowing some 200,000 people from El Salvador to hold residence and employment in the country under the Temporary Protected Status program activated in 2001.
Salvadoreans were granted the special status by Washington following a series of earthquakes that killed 944 and injured 5,565 in the former Spanish colony, a status that was set to expire on Monday.
Those who harbored in the U.S. now have until Sept. 9, 2019 before facing arrest and deportation from the government, following the same removal of the protected status for Haitians and Nicaraguans.
The status removal for Haitians have caused a political debate in Canada over whether Ottawa has an obligation to treat them as refugees as reports emerge of illegal border crossings from the United States.
Salvadoreans make up the largest population of the TPS program, created in 1990 to authorize immigrants, regardless of whether they are legal, to lawfully live and work in the U.S. if their nation was struck by conflict, a natural disaster or epidemic.
Immigrants from ten countries have been admitted under TPS since former President George Bush signed it into law.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will start deportation and arrests after the deadline, unless immigrants find a legal way to remain in the country.
More details to follow. Image 1 of El Salvador girl protesting the removal of status from KTLA.