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Trump administration extends protection for Salvadorans, allowing thousands to stay in the US

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On Monday, the Trump government extended the temporary protected status for thousands of Salvadorans in the United States, exempting them from removal to El Salvador.

Administration officials had been insisting for weeks that the continued existence of TPS was not on the table in exchange for the resumption of aid to the small Central American country or the signing of a recent agreement on asylum seekers. An approximate 200,000 Salvadorans in the US have TPS, making them the largest single group under the program. Many live in Los Angeles.

The president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, a millionaire millionaire who has had warm words for President Trump and his officials, praised the move in a Twitter Announcement Monday morning as a victory for his newly elected board.

"They said it was impossible," Bukele said. "That the Salvadoran government could do nothing … But we knew that our allies would not let us down."

However, Trump officials have painted a different picture in an attempt to limit the scope of enlargement. Ken Cuccinelli, Acting Head of Citizenship and Immigration Services, in fact did not say that TPS was expanded at all.

"On the contrary, work permits for Salvadorans will be extended by 1 year past resolution of disputes for an orderly settlement period," he said on Twitter.

But the Salvadoran foreign minister Alexandra Hill, in Washington to sign the agreements, said the Salvadorans are given "breathing room" to find a permanent solution that ultimately gives them residency or citizenship.

Hill also rejected suggestions that El Salvador was rewarded for accepting Trump's stringent demands for the small Central American country to help stop immigrants and asylum seekers from trying to reach the American border – a collaboration that El Salvador strongly criticizes delivered to proponents of immigrants. Hill was asked what El Salvador hoped to receive in return.

"This is not a consideration," she said. "It's not."

The administration is powerful about ending TPS programs, which have also been granted to Haitians, Hondurans and others. El Salvador is the only country whose nationals have been granted an extension.

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Hill acknowledged that a permanent solution for Salvadorans should not come through the executive, but through Congress, where, she said, the image of Salvadorans as vicious members of MS-13 gangs, drug traffickers and criminals was tempered with a more realistic image that includes hard-working members of communities and taxpayers, some of whom have lived in the US for two decades. The more negative image has been widely promoted by Trump.

Hill said that under TPS Salvadorans may in fact remain in the US and work until January 2022. But the Department of Homeland Security, in a statement, was less specific and said that work permits are extended by one year after "the conclusion of TPS-related lawsuits. "

A US court in Northern California last October blocked the Ministry of Homeland Security to end TPS for those from El Salvador and a handful of other countries. Administrative officials have attempted to dismantle the program as part of their broader efforts to reduce immigration. TPS offers recipients protection against removal and the right to work legally in the United States.

The announcement also places the US in a difficult position to expand a program intended for those fleeing natural disasters or civil unrest, while at the same time designating El Salvador as a safe country for asylum seekers. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

Officials have provided few details about the US asylum agreement with El Salvador, which is yet to come into force. The deal was concluded between several extensive negotiations with so-called Northern Triangle countries by the departing Minister of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan, who is pulling off this week.

The Northern Triangle of Central America is an impoverished and violence-ridden region responsible for the majority of migrants now fleeing to the United States. The number from El Salvador is considerably lower than that from Guatemala and Honduras. Most of the Salvadorans living in the US began to move in during the civil war of the 1980s, when a US-supported right-wing government eventually fought left-wing guerrillas against a stalemate in 1992.

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