AURORA | Aurora Congressman Mike Coffman is introducing legislation that would extend protection status for more than 260,000 Salvadorans living in the U.S., including about 13,000 in Colorado.
The announcement comes after the Temporary Protection Status program was terminated by the Department of Homeland Security earlier this week. Ending the program means more than a quarter-million Salvadoran immigrants would have to self-deport by September 2019 — a portion of the program Coffman said was unrealistic to begin with.
“We need to help people with humanitarian aid where they are instead of having them come to the United States,” Coffman said in a statement. “This program was a really bad idea from the start and is completely unrealistic in thinking that, once here, they would be willing to return to their home countries where conditions may have improved but are still nowhere near the living conditions here in the United States.”
One in 4 Salvadoran immigrants in Colorado live in Aurora, according to U.S. Census data. But it’s so far unclear what the Trump administration’s decision on TPS could mean for the community.
Coffman’s legislation would extend TPS for three years. After, qualified enrollees of the program could apply for a “green card.”
“I fully understand the concerns that by converting TPS enrollees into legal immigrants that I would be dramatically increasing the annual limits on green cards,” Coffman said. “But I’m not, since I’m subtracting the number from the annually allowed green cards so the existing caps will remain in place.”
That would mean that the Salvadoran applicants would have preference in obtaining Green Cards over others.
The legislation would also end all future TPS enrollment.