MSF: End of Temporary Protected Status for Salvadorans Puts Lives at Risk

MEXICO 2016 © Christina Simons/MSF

NEW YORK—The decision by the Trump Administration to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for approximately 200,000 Salvadorans living in the US threatens to directly endanger their lives, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said today. TPS allows temporary lawful status and work authorization in the US to people whose countries have been affected by armed conflict, natural disaster, or other extraordinary events. Salvadorans allowed to live and work in the US through TPS now have until September 9, 2019, to leave the US or face deportation.  

MSF teams regularly witness the impact of violence on Salvadorans through medical and mental health programs that treat people traveling along dangerous migration routes throughout Mexico. Most of the migrants treated by MSF are from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala—the Northern Triangle of Central America (NTCA). Many are fleeing unrelenting violence, death threats, and gang recruitment.

In survey and medical data from MSF’s programs in Mexico released last year, 55 percent of Salvadoran refugees and migrants reported being victims of blackmail or extortion, 56 percent had a relative who died due to violence, and 67 percent said they never felt safe at home.

In El Salvador, 6,650 intentional homicides were reported in 2015, reaching a staggering murder rate of 103 per 100,000 inhabitants that year, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Data from the UNODC shows that homicidal violence in the NTCA resulted in considerably more civilian casualties than in any other countries, including those with armed conflicts or war. Homicide rates declined in 2016 in El Salvador, but they remain among the highest in the world. In recent years, rates of violent death in El Salvador have been higher than in all countries suffering armed conflict except for Syria.

"In this context, it is unfathomable to send people in the United States back to El Salvador," said Jason Cone, MSF USA’s executive director. "The US is sending Salvadorans back to one of the most violent places in the world, and putting them at risk of death. This violates one of the most fundamental principles of international law, which makes it clear that people must not be sent back to countries where they fear persecution or violence. As a medical humanitarian organization treating people fleeing murder and violence in El Salvador, we urge the Trump Administration to reconsider this decision and extend TPS for Salvadorans living in the US. Congress must find a permanent solution that protects hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans from deportation. For far too many of the people affected by this decision today, this is a matter of life and death."