WASHINGTON D.C (WKOW) -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security confirms that it is ending special protections for Salvadoran immigrants, forcing nearly 200,000 to leave the country or face deportation.
Salvadorans will have until Sept. 9, 2019, to leave the United States or adjust their legal status.
Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Monday that damage inflicted by a 2001 earthquake in the Central American country didn’t justify another temporary extension. She says that El Salvador has received significant international aid and that much of the country’s infrastructure is rebuilt.
She says the 18-month delay gives Congress time to address the issue.
The decision would also send shockwaves though parts of Washington, Los Angeles, New York City, and other metropolitan areas that are home to large numbers of Salvadorans. They've enjoyed special protection since earthquakes struck the central american country in 2001.
El Salvador's President Salvador Sanchez Ceren spoke to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Friday to request an extension and allow more time for congress to deliver a long-term fix for those covered to stay in the U.S.
But, in an interview last week with the Associated Press, Secretary Nielsen said shot-term extensions are not the answer.
The Trump administration ended the protections for citizens of Haiti and Nicaragua last year.