One a day when a US federal judge issued a temporary injunction blocking the effectiveness of portions of the Arizona immigration enforcement law, I thought it was worth highlighting a few news items concerning El Salvador and US immigration law.
After Judge Bolton's decision, the El Salvador's Foreign Minister, Hugo Martinez, told the press that his government celebrated the decision, and that legality and respect for human rights had prevailed.
The government of El Salvador and seven other Latin American countries had sought to join a lawsuit by Mexico, one of the parties challenging the enforcement of the Arizona immigration statute.
The archbishop of San Salvador had this to say about the Arizona law:
“We are all against the law. We sincerely hope the judge charged with the matter will opt for a repeal, because the law in question is not only anti-immigrant, it is totally anti-human rights” said Archbishop José Luis Escobar of San Salvador.
The Archbishop said the Bill proposed in Arizona “turns innocent men and women into criminals and this cannot be allowed to happen in a country such as the United States of America, a nation of democracy. To enforce such a law would put the entire country in a very bad light”
On July 13, the US government extended Temporary Protected Status ("TPS") for another 18 months for some 217,000 Salvadorans living in the US. The Voices from El Salvador blog explains more:
TPS for Salvadorans began in February of 2001 after a series of severe earthquakes devastated El Salvador. The 18-month extension, which expires March 9, 2012, allows undocumented Salvadorans who were living in the U.S. at the time that the original TPS was issued to legally remain in the country.
Approximately 217,000 Salvadorans are currently in the U.S. with Temporary Protected Status, and it is expected that the vast majority will renew their status in order to remain in the country until 2012. Salvadoran president Mauricio Funes hailed the U.S. decision, saying the extension “is the product of the strong ties between El Salvador and the United States to reduce poverty, crimes and delinquency” (San Fernando Valley Sun). Some, however, have criticized TPS as a band-aid solution that only delays comprehensive and permanent immigration reform, noting that it has ceased being “temporary” (Miami Herald).
Not all undocumented Salvadorans in the U.S. are protected under TPS, however. Any Salvadorans who entered the country after 3cFebruary 2001 are ineligible, as are those who were originally protected, but have left the country for any length of time in the interim, or those who have failed to comply with the required registration process. Under the new extension, Salvadorans have until September 7, 2010 to re-register, and are encouraged to do so as early as possible to provide time for the necessary background checks. The re-registration itself is free, however there is an $80 biometric services fee for applicants 14 and older, and a $340 fee for the I-765 form, Application for Employment Authorization, for those who wish to receive a renewed work permit along with their renewed protected status. Those who cannot afford to pay the fees may request a waiver and must submit paperwork to document their inability to pay. Failure to pay or submit the paperwork will result in rejection of the entire application. This may mean that some families experience financial hardship or are unable to pay the necessary funds to renew their protected status.
An estimated 2.5 million Salvadorans live in the US, and the money they send back to El Salvador is a tremendously significant part of the Salvadoran economy.