USA Today, January 14, 2018
President Trump's decision to end the temporary — but long-term — protection granted to citizens of El Salvador and several other countries is appropriate, consistent with the law and good policy.
Congress created Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in 1990 to establish rules for presidents wanting to offer deportation relief due to home country conditions. It is not a resettlement program for those fleeing disasters, but a respite from deportation for those who happen to be here, usually illegally, when disaster strikes at home. It is temporary protection that includes a work permit and eligibility for driver's licenses and other benefits normally accessible only to legal immigrants.
In practice, the program has been temporary in name only — it has been renewed more often than it has been canceled. Salvadorans have had this status since a series of earthquakes in 2001, and Hondurans and Nicaraguans have had it since a hurricane in 1999.
During these years, most beneficiaries have worked, started families, and taken part in American life. But few qualify to stay permanently under our oversubscribed legal immigration system, which is based on family relationships, job offers, skills or refugee designation. In fact, to reinforce that the program is temporary, Congress deliberately made it almost impossible for TPS grantees to obtain permanent status.
The program was a lifeline, but the events that led to the offer of protection are long over. Those who do not qualify for green cards should use the 18-month grace period to prepare to return home. With the skills, education and savings they have obtained here, they will be assets to their home countries. Indeed, Central American leaders have expressed optimism about their return.
Despite this, some are clamoring for amnesty for TPS grantees. Instead, Congress should let those who qualify adjust to permanent status, and then end the TPS program altogether, so future presidents will have to find less permanent ways to postpone deportations.