Thousands of NJ immigrants to lose legal status — Devastating, or about time?
Nearly 200,000 Salvadorans living in the United States will lose their temporary protected status if the Trump administration decides to lift it.
Seton Hall law professor Lori Nessel says of those Salvadorans in the United States, New Jersey — Hudson County, in particular — is home to a sizable portion.
Nessel, who is also director of The Center for Social Justice at Seton Hall, says sending Salvadorans and their children back to the uncertainty of a gang-ridden nation could have dire consequences for many of them.
"Conditions in El Salvador have remained extremely dangerous and volatile, albeit for different reasons," she said.
Salvadorans became eligible for the temporary status after a series of earthquakes in 2001.
Many of the people under the temporary status have tried to become permanent residents by applying for green cards.
Supporters of the administration's move point out that the temporary status is supposed to last 18 months at a time, with extensions granted if armed conflict or disaster conditions persist.
About 39,000 people have returned to El Salvador since 2015, federal officials said Monday.
"The program was never intended to provide a means for long-term residency in the United States," the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group that supports tighter immigration rules, said in a blog post Monday.
Nessel says this move is part of a broader immigration agenda that includes ending the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, which put children of immigrants who do not have legal status at risk of deportation, as well as ending temporary protective status for people from Nicaragua and Haiti.
"There is talk about wanting to move away from a family unity-based immigration policy, which we have had for so many years," she said.
"We are talking about what is going to be a de facto deportation of a large segment of American children because if these people have been in this country for that long, life goes on, they have lived here, they have had children, they have started businesses, they have integrated in many, many ways in our country."
That means they will have to chose between taking their American-raised children to a country that they have had little or no connection with or letting them grow up in the United States without parents.
She says the immigrants temporary protected status does not expire until September 2019, so there is still time to rethink this.
Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5