POST-EDITORIAL-IMMIG 501 words
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · No Author · OPINION, EDITORIALS · Jan 09, 2018 - 11:43 PM
This appeared in Wednesday’s Washington Post:
Striking a blow for making America small again - plus petty, callous and self-defeating - the Trump administration on Monday stripped about 200,000 Salvadorans of their work authorizations and protection from deportation, effective 20 months from now.
The move will create tens of thousands of new undocumented immigrants in the United States; aggravate labor shortages in some American cities; saddle one of the hemisphere’s most beleaguered countries with problems it is ill-equipped to manage; and embitter tens of thousands of U.S.-born citizens whose parents are suddenly thrust into a life in the shadows or forced to return to a country where they have no future.
At this point, it’s naive to wonder what has become of America’s humanitarian impulse; in the Age of Trump, it’s null and void. Before the decision Monday by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to send packing Salvadorans who have lived in this country since a pair of earthquakes crippled their homeland in 2001, the administration took identical action last year against citizens of the hemisphere’s two poorest countries, Haiti and Nicaragua, who have also lived in this country since natural disasters ravaged their own, and announced its intention to end protections for young undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers” effective beginning in March.
As with the dreamers, the administration has seized on a narrow, legalistic interpretation as a pretext for turning against immigrants who have lived in the United States for years. In the case of the Salvadorans, officials insisted that the humanitarian program that shielded them, known as Temporary Protected Status, should lapse because their country had surmounted the original calamity that triggered TPS in the first place. The argument was the same last year for ending TPS for immigrants from Haiti, knocked senseless by a 2010 earthquake, and those from Nicaragua, leveled by a hurricane in 1998.
The administration insists it is giving meaning to the “temporary” in Temporary Protected Status. That’s fine as theory; as a policy, it fails by ignoring reality. Both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations grasped that it was unwise, not to mention cruel, to impose additional burdens on already desperate neighbors. El Salvador - wracked by brutal gang warfare, one of the world’s highest murder rates and an anemic economy - has gross domestic product per capita one-seventh that of the United States. Deporting tens of thousands of Salvadorans, and, in the process, depriving their country of the remittances they send home, will only deepen that country’s unfolding disaster. How is that in the United States’ interest?
The fact is that the Salvadorans have nearly 200,000 children who are U.S. citizens, born in this country, with no knowledge of their parents’ homeland. Nearly a quarter of those who will lose their status have mortgages, many have businesses, and a large majority have been gainfully employed for many years, paying taxes and contributing to communities.
The costs of the administration’s policy are clear. But what has been gained?