A Review of Last Week in Trump-ville: TPS, DACA, Immigration, And Excrement Metaphors

On TPS …

On January 8, 2018, the Trump administration ordered the end of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for El Salvador, putting the lives of 200,000 Salvadorans in the balance.

The incident didn’t spark much outrage, as the media was busy relishing and reporting the tidbits from Michael Wolff’s exposé of Trump team – ‘Fire and Fury.’

The Salvadorans were granted TPS in 2008 by president George W. Bush in the light of the disastrous earthquake that rocked the Central American nation in 2001. A review of the eligibility requirements for TPS pops up some questions. One of the requirement states that applicants must “have been continuously physically present (CPP) in the United States since the effective date of the most recent designation date of your country …” Note the ambiguity the statement leaves around the immigration status of the individual.

Indeed, both legal and illegal immigrants can apply for TPS. In fact, an illegal alien’s stay in the US becomes legal post acceptance into the TPS program. While the switching of statuses doesn’t do away the past immigration law violation, it certainly makes a mockery of the rule of law.

Also, it’s important to note that while TPS enrollees may seek employment and avail themselves of some benefits, there is no pathway to citizenship or green card under the program.

El Salvador’s infrastructural condition has improved since the earthquake devastated the nation at the start of the 21st century. And it is high time to put the ‘T’ in TPS into action and send the immigrants back, lest TPS comes to be construed as a means to prolong stay in the US until such time as a leftist legislature decides to amend the law to hand out citizenships and grow their voter base.

Critics of termination cite burgeoning gang violence as a justifiable reason to extend TPS to Salvadorians. But internal security issues, barring civil war, are not qualifying factors. After all, there isn’t a dearth of countries stricken with violence, gang crimes, and lawlessness. The US isn’t and cannot be the care center of the world.

Many news publications have used the word ‘deportation’ to describe Trump administration’s termination order. Deportations are applicable to unlawful immigrants/residents and are effective immediately. The Salvadorans have until September 2019 to get their papers in order and leave, post which they will be ‘deported.’ It’s important to call out the media spin.

Some more facts to be considered while developing an opinion on termination of TPS are encapsulated in this report by Center for Immigration Studies. Per the report, in 2014,

  • Educational Attainment:54 percent of Guatemalan immigrants (ages 25 to 65) have not graduated high school. The figure for Salvadorans is 53 percent, and for Hondurans, 44 percent. The corresponding figure for native-born Americans is 7 percent.
  • Welfare Use:57 percent of households headed by immigrants from El Salvador use at least one major welfare program, as do 54 percent of Honduran households, and 49 percent of Guatemalan immigrant households. Among native households it is 24 percent.3
  • Poverty:65 percent of Honduran immigrants and their young children (under 18) live in or near poverty (under 200 percent of the poverty threshold). For Guatemalan and Salvadoran immigrants and their children, it is 61 percent. The corresponding figure for natives and their children is 31 percent.4

The Salvadorans in the US, among other Central American populations in the US, compared to the natives performed poorly in schools, endured poverty at higher levels, and were more dependent on welfare programs.

In addition, around 70 percent of Salvadorans in the US lacked a degree of English proficiency that would enable them to pursue higher education and get better jobs.

Together the above factors produce a population employed predominantly in blue collar jobs that have been seeing a steady decline in wages not just for native born Americans, but also for recent immigrants.

While the crime rates among Salvadorians in the US might have been lower than native-born Americans, this cannot be a justification for an extended stay, when their chances of climbing up the socio-economic ladder are slim. Sun-setting the TPS is the right move, and while several people will be re-displaced, the TPS was temporary and was never supposed to provide a permanent home.

On DACA, Immigration, and The Wall …

Trump held a televised meeting with select senate and house members to discuss DACA, border security, and comprehensive immigration reform.

He seemed much more confident, composed, and coherent in his articulation. The last two descriptors are important because these are traits that he seems to miss out quite often, giving hatchet-job Internet news outlets fodder to ruminate on.

The meeting started with the sense that DACA and border security were inextricably tied and that a deal on DACA should come with assurances on border security in a quid-pro-quo fashion.

Trump seemed firm on his demand for funding for the border wall with Democrats trying to talk him into divorcing it from DACA bill. The inextricability seemed to change towards the end when the president settled on a step-by-step approach towards DACA and border security, handling them one at a time.

Notwithstanding his amenability to Democrat persuasion, when quizzed by a reporter in the room over whether he will be stubborn about the border wall, he responded with a firm ‘Yes!’ In the light of all this, ‘ambivalent’ is the best way to describe the fate of the border wall.

As for immigration reform, Trump seemed ardent on doing away with chain migration and the diversity lottery – two of the most counterintuitive and counterproductive channels of immigration.

The overall meeting had a cheery and sanguine note to it, although, the Democrats, given their recidivism towards obstructionism, cannot be counted on.

On ‘Shitholes’ …

Yes. Much of the third world is miserable, insufferable, and provides its residents with shockingly low standards of living and progress. The first world can’t be blamed for the quagmire the third world finds itself moored in.

Although, it wasn’t appropriate for the POTUS to be a plain-speaker in describing certain nations in an official setting with members of the opposition, the metaphorical epithet is fitting.

As expected, Trump went into full-defensive mode on twitter, lambasting the Democrats, and endangering the prospects of DACA and border security. I am not sure whether Democrats will use this as an excuse to throw their hands in the air and withdraw from negotiating on DACA. In any case, the deadline for DACA termination is arriving fast and if the Dems don’t do something now, it’s their hands that will be bloodied, as the president made it very clear at the meeting that he will sign into law whatever Congress places on his desk.

Saurabh Malkar
Saurabh Malkar
An ex-dentist and a business graduate who is greatly influenced by American conservatism and western values. Having born and brought up in a non-western, third world country, he provides an ‘outside-in’ view on western values. As a budding writer and analyst, he is very much stoked about western culture and looks forward to expound and learn more. Mr. Malkar receives correspondence at saurabh.malkar[at]gmail.com. To read his 140-character commentary on Twitter, follow him at @saurabh_malkar