Jan 24, 2018

Many Salvadoran workers may opt to go underground

Surrendering in Texas. Photo: John Moore / Getty

About 200,000 Salvadorans face deportation next year under a decision by the Trump administration, creating a potential crisis in numerous industries including construction and other trades. But an increasing view is that many of them will simply go underground.

Quick take: In all, some 300,000 Salvadorans, Haitians and Hondurans either have already been ordered to go or could be. But given conditions back home, experts say, there is a strong chance that many of them will choose to take their chances in the U.S.

"I tend to believe that most Salvadorans will stay and go underground, slipping into undocumented status," José Miguel Cruz, a professor at Florida International University, tells Axios. "The reason: they don’t see going back to El Salvador as a choice, not only for economic reasons but also due to safety."

The background: The Salvadorans have been in the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status since 2001, when George W. Bush permitted them in because of a deadly earthquake in El Salvador. Some 88% of them are now in the U.S. labor force, earning an average of $50k a year, according to the Cato Institute.

  • In addition to them, about 45,000 Haitians are required to go by July 2019, and 57,000 Hondurans are hoping not to get the same treatment.

Cruz goes on:

"In going back to El Salvador, they are putting their survival at risk; in staying in the U.S. they will live with anxiety of being deported but safer (and with their families). Obviously, there will be economic repercussions for the community at large: they will have to accept meager salaries and lower quality employment, and that will create problems of its own in the U.S. But they will try to hang on."
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