Washington (CNN)The Trump administration will allow more than 250,000 people from El Salvador to remain in the United States under temporary status for at least one more year, the US and El Salvador governments announced Monday.
The move gives the tens of thousands of El Salvadorans who fall under temporary protected status — a form of humanitarian relief — some reprieve, although a judge had already blocked the Trump administration’s move to terminate the protections. “We are very happy to be able to announce that today in Washington, DC, we signed an agreement that extends TPS for El Salvadorans in the United States for another year,” US Ambassador to El Salvador Ronald Johnson said in Spanish. “This is a recognition of the achievements and good work of the government of President Nayib Bukele.” The decision to extend protections comes on the heels of an agreement with El Salvador that could allow the US to send some asylum seekers to El Salvador to seek humanitarian protections there. Since taking office, President Donald Trump has pushed to curtail temporary protected status, arguing that repeated extensions betray the “temporary” piece of the status. Read MoreTPS applies to people in the United States who would face extreme hardship if forced to return to homelands devastated by armed conflict or natural disasters, and allows them to legally work in the US. A series of devastating earthquakes in El Salvador led to its designation in 2001. There are more than 250,000 Salvadoran TPS beneficiaries, according to government statistics cited by the Congressional Research Service.The Trump administration has moved to end TPS for many of the countries with the protection, including El Salvador, but courts have so far blocked those efforts. Late last year, a federal judge in California granted a preliminary injunction stopping the government from terminating TPS for immigrants from Sudan, El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua. Since then, the administration has worked closely with El Salvador, along with other Central American countries, to strike agreements aimed at curbing the flow of asylum seekers to the United States. Last month, the US and El Salvador signed an agreement, which aims to recognize and build El Salvador’s asylum system. The deal was announced by acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and El Salvadoran Foreign Minister Alexandra Hill Tinoco as a measure to curb illegal migration and increase security cooperation. A change to temporary protected status for El Salvador was expected as part of the agreement. At the signing ceremony, Tinoco told reporters that the two countries “need to talk and look at permanent solutions for El Salvadorans living in the United States.”Advocates have been critical of the deal with El Salvador, arguing it threatens the safety of asylum seekers. “The agreement is a farce and makes a mockery of the life-saving system of asylum,” said Rev. John L. McCullough, president and CEO of Church World Service. “All people deserve a safe place to call home.”Kerri Talbot, director of federal advocacy at the Immigration Hub, said Monday that El Salvador doesn’t have any “infrastructure whatsoever for dealing with asylum claims.”