Trump’s crackdown on immigrants intensifies

Department announces that up to 200,000 people from El Salvador should leave

US president Donald Trump en route to Nashville, Tennessee where he told delegates that “the American Dream is roaring back to life”. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

US president Donald Trump en route to Nashville, Tennessee where he told delegates that “the American Dream is roaring back to life”. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters


The US crackdown on immigration intensified on Monday as the Department of Homeland Security announced that 200,000 immigrants from El Salvador should leave the country. The White House confirmed it was ending a programme for Salvadoreans known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS) that was introduced after earthquakes rocked Central America in 2001.

The programme allowed people from Central American countries to stay for an 18-month period, and all previous White House administrations have extended the scheme since then.

But with the current period due to expire, the Trump administration announced that it would no longer be extended for El Salvador, though it did leave the door open for Congress to find some form of legislative solution.

The 200,000 immigrants affected, have been given until September 9th next year to leave the US or find a legal way to remain in the country.

The announcement, though not unexpected, is the latest sign of a tightening of immigration policy by the Trump administration. Last month the administration ended temporary protection for more than 45,000 Haitians who fled Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, while immigrants from Nicaragua also lost immigration protections last year.

Separately, new figures show that the US admitted far fewer refugees in the three months from October than the previous year, as tighter restrictions and implementation of immigration laws came into effect.

Focus on immigration issues will continue on Tuesday in Washington when president Donald Trump is due to host a bipartisan meeting on immigration at the White House.

Mexican wall

In particular, efforts are under way to find a solution to the “Dreamers” programme, the scheme for immigrants who were brought to the US as children. Mr Trump announced the abolition of the programme – officially known as the deferred action on childhood arrivals (Daca) programme – last October, but gave Congress six months to come up with a solution.

Both the Dreamers issue and Mr Trump’s proposed wall with Mexico are forming part of ongoing discussions on the federal budget, as lawmakers work to avoid a government shutdown on January 20th. While Democrats are trying to secure some form of settlement to allow the Dreamers to stay in the US, Mr Trump is looking for up to $18 billion (€15 billion) from Congress to help fund his proposed wall on the Mexican border, something that Democrats have vowed to oppose.

Speaking at Camp David on Saturday, where he was hosting Republican leaders, Mr Trump said Democrats would have to sanction funding for the wall in exchange for a deal for Dreamers. “We want the wall,” he said, flanked by Republican leaders. “The wall is going to happen, or we’re not going to have Daca.”

FBI investigation

Meanwhile, as Mr Trump left Washington for Tennessee on Monday, where he addressed the American Farm Bureau Association convention, NBC and the Washington Post reported that Mr Trump’s lawyers are talking to the FBI about a possible interview with the president as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Citing three people familiar with the situation, NBC said lawyers for Mr Trump had met with representatives of Mr Mueller’s office in late December to discuss the logistics of any interview.

Mr Trump’s visit to Nashville on Monday was widely seen as an effort to convince the farming community of the benefits of the recently agreed tax reform plan, with many farmers expressing concern in recent months about the effect of Mr Trump’s radical trade promises on their export prospects.

Addressing delegates at the convention Mr Trump said: “The American Dream is roaring back to life,” as he defended the “most significant tax cuts and reforms in American history”.

Mr Trump was due to travel from Tennessee to Georgia to attend Monday night’s college championship game between Alabama and Georgia.