Opinion: Editorial: Pulling Legal Status from Local Salvadorans

Opinion: Editorial: Pulling Legal Status from Local Salvadorans

Bad for communities, bad for the economy, bad for the families, and no upside.

It’s going to hurt right here in Northern Virginia.

As this administration continues its persecution against immigrants, it will move to end protected status for more than 200,000 Salvadorans, tens of thousands of whom live among us as neighbors, coworkers, friends, business owners, homeowners.

These neighbors, Salvadorans who came here in the wake of terrible natural disaster and political unrest, have been living and working here legally since 2001 at least. Temporary Protected Status was given to approximately 217,000 Salvadoran immigrants living in the United States at the time of the disasters.

Their families have added almost as many U.S.-born children. They are intertwined with naturalized citizens and other legal residents from their country, with the withdrawal of protected status affecting a community far larger than the TPS recipients. These communities are concentrated, intensifying the overall impact, and more live here in the D.C. suburbs than anywhere else.

On average, Salvadoran TPS recipients have been in the U.S. for 21 years; one-third have mortgages. These are people who have had legal work permits, who suddenly will not be able to work legally here. Their mortgages, and the mortgages of people who depend on them, will be at risk. Removing the ability of recipients to work legally will increase the risk of foreclosure, with negative economic impact across communities.

Salvadorans with protected status pay sales and property taxes. The communities they live in will be damaged. Their children will be more at risk. Our economy will be damaged.

THE SALVADORAN IMMIGRANT population is most concentrated in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, where 165,000 El Salvador-born residents make up 2.9 percent of the population.

Salvadorans in the United States sent $3.6 billion home to El Salvador in 2012, 16.5 percent of that country’s GDP.

Virginia has nearly 45,000 El Salvadoran TPS residents, almost all in Northern Virginia, and concentrated in particular neighborhoods. Arlington has identified just four census tracts with more than 1,000 Salvadoran residents each (two with more than 1,400). In 2015, the most common birthplace for the foreign-born residents of Virginia was El Salvador, accounting for 96,515 Virginia residents. Fairfax County in 2010 was home to 43,566 Salvadorans.

Analysis shows that when Salvadoran, Honduran, and Haitian workers with TPS are removed from the labor force, the United States will lose $45.2 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) over the next decade, according to Immigrant Legal Resource Center. When TPS holders lose their work authorization, it will result in a $6.9 billion reduction to Social Security and Medicare contributions over a decade, as calculated by the ILRC.

All of that shows why this will damage communities and the economy. It says nothing about the harm to families. But the harm is great.

— Mary Kimm


Sources: American Progress, Pew Hispanic, Center for Immigration Studies, U.S. Census, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, local government demographic data.