How much do you know about Salvadorans? More than you think, in fact.
On Monday the Trump administration ended protections for more than 200,000 Salvadorans who have lived in the US for more than 15 years. No warning and no explanation was given.
That's close to a quarter of a million people who now have until September 2019 to find a way to stay here legally or face deportation. The anxiety the move has created is only matched by its cruelty.
After fifteen years roots run deep – jobs, schools, retirement plans, schools are suddenly thrown in the air – and they all came here legally.
Recall that the majority of the Salvadorans who came here around 2001 were fleeing a devastating series of earthquakes, which is why they were given the special Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation in the first place.
We Irish know in our bones what it's like to seek sanctuary in America after a life-changing natural disaster. What would have happened to us if men like Donald Trump and his party, the GOP, had taken that sanctuary away and turned us back?
The Trump administration says it is time to end special protection for about 200,000 people from El Salvador. Many will face deportation if they do not leave by September of next year https://t.co/6g42SuHa2D pic.twitter.com/ZNpdUgjwN0— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 9, 2018
And if Trump can throw that quarter million strong community's lives into turmoil this easily, which community is next?
Over two decades you put down roots. You build a life. To have it torn away after two decades without ceremony or explanation is an unforgivable affront.
The Irish, after all, were like the Salvadoran refugees of the 19th Century, unknown, foreign, “the other.” Donald Trump would have banned them. They fit his modern description perfectly of people of little use to the US - people to fear.
If you spend any time studying England and the world’s response to the Great Hunger in Ireland in the 19th century, you’ll be struck by the moralizing, the finger pointing and at worst the cold indifference - not unlike the Trump dark vision today.
Official information on re-registering for TPS El Salvador has not been announced yet. Avoid people who say they can help you file or pay!— USCIS (@USCIS) January 9, 2018
There is no doubt that Trump would have demonized the Irish fleeing the famine and turned back the antecedents of men like John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, the father of Henry Ford and the father of Eugene O'Neill among millions of others. Where would America be without them?
Back then, like Trump's animosity to immigrants today, it wasn’t enough that a potato crop had failed. Irish people were then scolded for their dependency on it. Pushed to the margins, cheated of their inheritance, they had had all their land stolen and were then blamed for the theft.
The Salvadoran refugees have made their homes here successfully for two decades. We talk about the American Dream and we don't say it's a private members club. We say it's for everyone who wants to make their contribution. Let the Salvadorans make their contribution. Once again we fail to see the mote in our own eye.
El Salvadorans fear their country is not prepared 200,000 people to return https://t.co/lHLwjAkSaN— TIME (@TIME) January 9, 2018
The Irish who made it here were never turned away. Otherwise, as an ethnic group, we would not exist. We should see a little of us in any immigrant community. We should see frightened families in search of refuge. We should see human misery making an appeal to human compassion.
What would have happened to us in the 19th century if the United States had taken the hardline on immigration that many European nations have and America under Donald Trump wants to enact now?
How would our emaciated Irish forebears have fared under the so-called “extreme vetting” that Trump has just proposed? Trump has vowed to build a wall on the Mexican border and has promised a total ban on Muslims from seven countries entering the U.S.
The 19th-century Irish wouldn't have gotten through his “extreme vetting.” Most likely we would have been subject to a total ban.
"When they say send them back, what you're saying is you're okay with that person dying." @EGKennedySD details a heartbreaking story of a family who left the U.S. and went back to El Salvador. pic.twitter.com/vdB6XGrT49— Doctors w/o Borders (@MSF_USA) January 9, 2018
That's because at the time the Irish were deeply unpopular here in America. We were seen as dependent, priest-ridden, given to addictions of all kinds and wholly untrustworthy. We would never have gotten past a president who had singled us out for special opprobrium the way the nativist hordes on the New York streets once did.
The Irish who are still coming here now can quickly attest to the difficulties of the immigration process, as well as the expense and the long years it takes to acquire a visa. If Trump is serious about increasing the “extreme vetting” of intending immigrants then the gears of the whole process will slow dramatically, affecting the lives and livelihoods of millions, including us.
In the 19th century, America gave a shot at a new life to a long-suffering people who rewarded that generosity by enriching their adopted homeland economically, socially and politically. That's a journey we should always support.
The hallmark of freedom is generosity, not fear, after all. Trump is only selling fear.
What do make of the Trump administration's decision to end the Temporary Protected Status of those from El Salvador? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, below.