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Thomas Gallatin / January 9, 2018

Proposed End to Salvadoran TPS — Trump’s Strategy

Trump is making a chess move that has to do with Democrats, DACA and the border wall.

The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday that it would not renew Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 200,000 Salvadorans, which had allowed them to legally live and work in the U.S. since 2001. The TPS program established by Congress in 1990 via the Immigration Act was promoted as a means for the U.S. to offer temporary resident status to foreign peoples suffering from armed conflict, environmental disaster or other extraordinary circumstances in their home countries. In practice, however, TPS has primarily served as a backdoor means of conferring amnesty to hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens.

By refusing to renew these Salvadorans’ TPS, President Donald Trump is once again establishing Rule of Law, while at the same time ratcheting up pressure on Democrats who have been threatening a government shutdown over DACA. None of these Salvadorans are under immediate threat of deportation. They will continue to enjoy legal resident status and work permits up to September 2019. Trump has correctly interpreted the TPS law’s temporary provision and has essentially thrown the issue back to Congress. It will now be up to members of the legislative branch to wrestle with finding a “solution” to prevent deportation or to simply allow the TPS law to be enforced as written.

Again, this is chess, not checkers. Trump is setting the stage for facing off with Democrats over DACA and the border wall. Democrats, who have long resisted serious illegal immigration controls because they’re after votes, understand that the wall represents not only a physical barrier but also a sustained, long-term commitment by the federal government to finally stem the problem. DACA is for Trump what China was for Nixon. In other words, Trump may be the only Republican who can get away with supporting legislation on DACA, and he knows it. That’s why the deal won’t happen if he doesn’t also get his border wall. With this latest move on TPS, Trump is simply calling the Democrats’ bluff. Will Democrat obstinacy to a border wall trump their loudly expressed concerns for Dreamers? Clearly, Trump is willing and ready to make a deal, but only a deal that reinforces and upholds the Rule of Law.

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