The New Yorker:
Patty is a thirty-eight-year-old Salvadoran mother of two who has lived in the United States, on Long Island, since 1998. Her father was killed during El Salvador’s civil war, in the nineteen-eighties, and her mother fled to the U.S. to seek asylum as a refugee. Patty had initially thought that she would be eligible for residency in the U.S. through her mother, but that didn’t work out. “I never understood what happened with my papers,” she told me Monday night, when we spoke by phone. “But then there was another option.” In 2001, after a string of earthquakes had struck El Salvador, Patty was among the thousands of Salvadorans who qualified for temporary protected status, or T.P.S., a federal designation that allowed her to live and work legally in the U.S. She has renewed her T.P.S. status every eighteen months for the last seventeen years. During that time, she got married; had her two sons, who are U.S. citizens; went to community college; and found a job as a secretary at a financial-services firm.
On Monday morning, the Trump Administration announced its decision to cancel T.P.S. for Salvadorans. The decision was notable for the size of the population it affects (more than two hundred thousand people) and for the length of time they have been in the U.S. (since 2001 or earlier). These people now have until 2019 to leave the country. “I’m confused, I’m hurt, I’m angry,” Patty told me. “We’re going to lose so much. I came here to learn and to work. I have kids, and I don’t want to leave.” Patty separated from her husband a few years ago, and the younger of her two boys, who is thirteen, has autism and attends a school for special-needs students. “My older son”—who is seventeen—“said to me, ‘Mom, don’t worry. We’ll figure something out,’ ” she said. They plan to hire a lawyer to see if there’s any way Patty can stay. She hasn’t been back to El Salvador since she left, two decades ago. “The only people I know there would be the people I went to elementary school with, but I’ve never seen them since I was a little kid,” she said.
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