TPS Removal, Irony, and Other Things Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand

Kayla Lien, Opinion Editor

Immigration has always been in the national spotlight, but as of late, it has been unceremoniously shoved into the harsh limelight.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) was granted to about 250,000 Salvadoran immigrants escaping a pair of devastating earthquakes that hit their country in 2001 and a civil war that plagued the country for over a decade. On Monday, January 8th of 2018, these protections were rescinded, after Salvadorans have been living in the country for over a decade and a half, under the excuse that El Salvador has recovered from the earthquakes. While it may have recovered from natural disasters, the internal conflicts haven’t yet been remedied.

El Salvador, a small Central American Republic, lives up to its title of “Murder Capital of the World.” In January and February 2016, a person died of a violent killing every hour. Every night, a forensics team from a local morgue heads into the capital city’s streets’ to collect the bodies. El Salvador’s two rival armed street gangs, MS-13 and Barrio 18, contribute to the spike in violence, but the country has hundreds of smaller gang “cliques.” There are an estimated 25,000 gang members at large, while another 9,000 are in jail, as of 2011. Kids as young as 7 or 8 get recruited. On January 11, 2017, the country recorded its first homicide-free day in two years.

The civil war lasted for twelve years, before the gangs grew in power, from 1979-1992. It was between the Salvadoran military government and a collection of left-wing groups. Civilians were targeted deliberately by “death squads,” children were recruited as soldiers, as well as many other occurrences of violations of human rights. People fled the country at tremendous rates due to the Salvadoran Civil War, heading to Los Angeles, causing the start of MS-13 and Barrio 18. MS-13 was originally utilized to protect the Salvadoran immigrants from the other, stronger gangs of Los Angeles, but they turned on the civilians. When undocumented gang members were arrested in the U.S., they were deported to Central America, aiding the transnational spread of gang violence. When they got back to El Salvador, the country had no structure and the police force was almost nonexistent, giving the gangs an easy rise to power.

Sending people back to such dischord and ruin is knowingly sending them into danger and possible loss of life. It’s a place where 15-year-old girls get shot for crossing the wrong street, where you either “hide from the gangs or give in to them.”

Donald Trump claimed that with the help of the law enforcement, he’s “going to destroy the vile criminal cartel MS-13 and many other gangs,” yet he’s the best recruiter these gangs have, worsening the problem he hopes to fix. The reason MS-13 is such a flourishing transnational criminal organization is due to mass incarceration and deportation, and history is repeating itself. With the removal of TPS and the large-scale deportations that will occur, the U.S. is only making the same mistakes over again.

Many of those with TPS have U.S.-born children who’ve built lives in the only country they’ve ever known and will be separated from their deported parents. Separating these families also leads to the possibility of these children looking for support or familial relationships within gangs.

The U.S. government relies on immigrant informants to monitor criminal activity, but undocumented immigrants who are afraid of being deported are less likely to cooperate with the authorities. Everything about this situation is wrong. It’s a catch-22, but rather a catch-66 with all the problems TPS removal leaves unsolved. The Trump Administration is simultaneously building and destroying what little foundation of control they’re standing on.

Trump’s actions will hurt the U.S. more than he knows. Barrio 18 and MS-13 already have ties throughout the States, and while he likes to over-exaggerate the problem, canceling TPS will only cause gang violence to rise to the terrifying levels he imagines.

The President doesn’t seem to understand the impact of this decision. About 9,000 janitorial and maintenance workers from El Salvador have been scrubbing, sweeping, and cleaning government buildings in the nation’s capital for decades. On some level, this will affect him negatively, however miniscule that point may be. When he loses his workhorses, maybe Trump will appreciate all he has – a country, family, and power unfit for a toddler.

Not only has this irony not gone unnoticed, Donald Trump has admitted to being “a proud German-American,” and that his father was an immigrant from the German town of Kallstadt. His heritage has ties to immigration, just like almost everyone in America, so his animosity towards immigrants is ridiculous and misplaced.

As dark as times are, hope is not lost. Red de Solidaridad operates here in Salt Lake City as an all-volunteer, rapid-response team assisting immigrants and their families threatened with deportation. Money goes straight to impacted families, and they have established a fund to pay renewal fees for DACA holders. Nonprofit organizations like Immigration Legal Services help immigrants to navigate the U.S. Immigration process, and their services are either mostly or entirely free-of-charge. The Catholic Community Services of Utah call people to action, collecting funds, helping immigrants complete their forms, acting as representatives in front of an immigration court, among other matters. Salt Lake Community College remains open and inclusive to DACA recipients and undocumented students. While the future may look bleak, there is always something we can do.

We as a society must come together as one and fight for what makes this country a place we would want to live. We must defend those who are unable to defend themselves and take back the rights’ we deserve by being born human.