Jan 05, 2018 - 2:45pm

Time is Running Out. The Department of Homeland Security Should Extend El Salvador’s TPS Designation.


Director of Immigration Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

It may be the start of New Year for many of us, but for the 195,000 Salvadorans legally living and working in the United States, January 8, 2018 means that a dreaded deadline is upon them. That is the day that DHS will decide whether it will extend the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for El Salvador.

Many Salvadoran TPS recipients have been living and working in the U.S. since 2001. They’ve grown roots in their local communities, as evidenced by various data points summarized by the Center for Migration Studies.

  • Salvadoran TPS recipients have a labor force participation rate of 88%.
  • In the 135,400 Salvadoran TPS recipient households, these TPS recipients have approximately 192,700 U.S. citizen children.
  • 45,500 of the Salvadoran TPS recipient have a mortgage on their home.  

Of particular importance is the single industry that employs the most Salvadoran TPS recipients: construction.

The number of Salvadoran TPS recipients working construction jobs in the U.S.: 36,900. 

Construction firms already have a hard time finding skilled workers. DHS declaring thousands of workers ineligible to work will make it harder to fix storm-ravaged areas in the Southeast.  An owner of a Houston, TX construction company told the Christian Science Monitor: “I can’t afford to lose 29 workers right now,” he adds. “I’m doing lot of work to help a lot of people, and if I lose them I can’t do the work.… We had a shortage of skilled labor before [Hurricane] Harvey, and now it’s critical.”

This is one example in one of many industries where companies will struggle to maintain productivity if a significant portion of their workforce is told that an expiration date is being placed on their legal presence – and work authorization – in the U.S.  Uprooting people who are our neighbors and co-workers and forcing them to leave their life and family in America at some future date is not sound policy, as companies in various industries will have to fire their valued employees and then scramble to fill these positions. Forcing companies to recruit, hire, and train replacements for these valued workers takes away resources that could have been used to expand operations, which will limit the ability of these businesses to grow and increase their production levels.

To avoid the likely disruption that TPS recipients, their families, and their employers will face, DHS should extend El Salvador’s TPS designation. The U.S. Chamber wants to work with the administration and Congress on legislative solutions that will allow these individuals to keep contributing to our communities and economy in the future without having to remain in a perpetual temporary status. 

In the meantime, when unemployment is very low, it would be a mistake for DHS to put the lives of almost 200,000 individuals and their families in jeopardy. 

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About the Author

Director of Immigration Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce