The executive action taken by president Obama to protect millions of undocumented immigrants who have children in the US will have a dramatic impact on the community of Salvadorans living in the US, according to a recent story from the Washington Post:
Obama’s action may affect more Mexicans than any other group, but it is expected to have a seismic impact on Salvadoran immigrant communities, the two largest of which are in Los Angeles and greater Washington. More than a third of the estimated 675,000 illegal immigrants from El Salvador live in the Washington area.
According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, when the president’s new action is added to previous protections, nearly two-thirds of all Salvadoran immigrants will probably be legalized — a higher percentage than any other undocumented group. Immigration officials will start accepting applications in May.
For the first time, thousands of Salvadoran parents with children born in the United States, as well as adults of any age who arrived in the country before turning 17, will be free to drive without fear, work for formal wages and assert themselves when they feel the are mistreated by probing police or stingy bosses. Many also will be eligible to receive Social Security, Medicare and other federal benefits.
“This will be transformative,” said Mark Lopez, director of Hispanic research at the Pew center in the District. “It’s not just about individuals getting temporary work permits and protection from deportation. It’s about their families and communities becoming more stable and being able to plan for the future.”The article goes on to point out that there are still significant limitations. People with the new protected status are not free to leave the US to go to El Salvador to visit family and then return. Salvadorans currently on Temporary Protected Status see no changes, and still have no path to legalization of their presence in the US, despite having spent more than 13 years in the country without violations of the law and having paid taxes and fees.
Perhaps the greatest shortcomings of Obama's action is the continuing focus on militarized border security and the failure to do anything to address the conditions in El Salvador and other countries which push migrants towards the US.