WASHINGTON — El Salvador President Nayib Bukele said Monday the United States government will extend temporary protected status for more than 200,000 Salvadorans living in the U.S.
Bukele posted a video to Twitter in which U.S. Ambassador Ronald Douglas Johnson said the two countries have signed an agreement extending TPS for one year. The usual renewals had been for 18 months.
The program allows Salvadorans to stay in the U.S. and avoid deportation proceedings, and allows them to get work permits.
“This is recognition of the achievements and good work of the government of Nayib Bukele,” Johnson said.
The Department of Homeland Security had not made any announcement, so it wasn’t clear whether TPS holders will need to renew their work permits before they expire in January, or whether the documents will be extended automatically.
José Palma, national coordinator for the TPS National Alliance, a group of TPS beneficiaries from across the U.S., told reporters that the lack of details on the extension could mean trouble for beneficiaries being able to keep their jobs.
“We need to find a permanent solution. This temporary protection is great, but we also understand this year will go by quickly,” he said.
The Trump administration’s move to end TPS for El Salvador and several other countries had been enjoined by a federal judge.
In September, El Salvador agreed to work with the U.S. to limit migration crossing its borders and accept asylum seekers who tried to reach the U.S. border.
Kerri Talbot, director of federal advocacy at the organization Immigration Hub, said it is “absurd” for the Trump administration to “say people can claim asylum in El Salvador but on the other hand people can stay in the United States because it is too dangerous to go back.”
Bukele had faced domestic criticism when his government signed the immigration agreement with the U.S. Critics thought he had failed to get the coveted TPS extension in return.
Bukele tweeted Monday, “They said it was impossible.”
“We didn’t want to share it earlier because it could have hindered talks,” he wrote.
Salvadoran citizens were originally granted TPS in 2001 following earthquakes in 2001.
El Salvador had been worried about potentially having to absorb thousands of citizens who had made lives for themselves in the U.S.
Deportees are often stigmatized in El Salvador — people think they must have done something wrong to get deported — and find it more difficult to find work and re-establish themselves in their native countries.