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Back to the Shadows for Salvadorans in MN


Thursday, January 11, 2018   

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Immigration lawyers in Minnesota have been fielding anxious calls from dozens of Salvadorans, many of whom have U.S. citizen children.

That's because the Trump administration revoked their temporary protected immigration status - or TPS - which was granted after a devastating earthquake 17 years ago and has been renewed by every president until this one. Ana Pottratz Acosta, assistant teaching professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, has clients whose families in El Salvador warn them not to come back.

"Most of the people I know who are Salvadoran nationals are very fearful of the violence that's occurring in their country right now,” Acosta said.

El Salvador has the world's second highest homicide rate, according to the United Nations.

The Trump administration ruled Salvadorans on TPS have until September, 2019, to find a legal way to stay, or else return to El Salvador. Acosta has urged them to get legal help. She predicts some will go back, but more will stay.

"People who have been out of the shadows - working legally, paying taxes, contributing to the economy for 17 years - are now going to be forced into the shadows and forced to live a life as an undocumented person,” Acosta said.

As many as 5,000 Salvadorans in Minnesota could be affected, according to the Center for Migration Studies. The Immigrant Law Center has set up a hotline to help them.

The Center’s executive director, John Keller, said his clients would seek legal status if they could.

"There is not an option for most of these people without Congress acting,” Keller said. "We'll have an election and this status for El Salvador will exist into the next Congress, so we shall see."

On Wednesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided 100 7-Eleven stores, none in Minnesota. But ICE officials said to expect more raids, saying "they were just getting started."

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