Local reaction to DHS cancellation of temporary protected status for Salvadoran nationals

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LANCASTER, Pa. - After the cancellation of temporary protected status for more than 200,000 Salvadoran nationals living across the United States, there is concern about what this means for hundreds of them who live in central Pennsylvania.

The status was launched under President George W. Bush in 2001 after two large earthquakes, and extended several times by the Bush and Obama administrations, but the Trump administration judged that the country has been repaired to the point where the order was not needed.

"It was never meant to be a pathway to citizenship, never meant to provide a means of immigration from El Salvador to the United States," said Marc Scaringi, the founder and president of Scaringi Law in Harrisburg who was a Trump delegate to the Republican National Convention in 2016.

For Troy Mattes, an immigration attorney who represents several Salvadoran clients who would lose protected status, the key is educating clients to find other legal ways to remain in the country before protected status expires in 2019.

"When you hear TPS is terminated, what people who have TPS hear is, 'Oh no, it's terminated and immigration is going to be coming for me,'" Mattes said. "So you have people in a panic mode, when our job is to tell people not to panic."

Mattes disagreed with the argument that El Salvador has been adequately rebuilt after the earthquakes, saying it has other problems that would be a culture shock to people returning.

"Things have happened year after year in so many years where it really has never gotten any better," Mattes said. "El Salvador is probably known as the murder capital of the world right now, now to try to send a bunch of other ones back, you're just creating a whole other set of problems for our country."

Nationals from other countries have been taken off the temporary protected status list before under different administrations.

For Scaringi, he believes this will be part of a larger impending discussion on immigration reform.

"This is an example of Trump doing a deal essentially to Congress, and I assume it's going to be a part of the negotiations on immigration, the negotiations on border security and the wall," he said.