SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – Two lawmakers on Tuesday called on California to spend millions to help its Salvadoran immigrant population fight deportation following the Trump administration’s call to end protections for over 200,000 people from the Central American nation.
Representing one of the largest Salvadoran communities in the country, two Los Angeles Democrats want to boost legal aid for Salvadorans facing deportation in September 2019 when they lose their federal temporary protected status. The proposal would add $10 million to the state’s social services budget, with funds distributed to nonprofits that offer legal help to California’s undocumented immigrants.
Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo, who came to the United States from El Salvador without documents and became a citizen in her early 20s, says California’s Salvadorans are just working toward the American Dream and are contributors to the state’s booming economy.
“As an immigrant from El Salvador, Trump’s deplorable actions really hit home. Tearing hundreds of thousands of families apart exemplifies just how callous and out of touch the Trump administration is,” the first-term lawmaker said in a statement.
Their proposal was prompted by Monday’s announcement that Homeland Security would not extend special protections currently in place for nearly 200,000 people from El Salvador that have been allowed to live and work legally in the United States following devastating earthquakes in 2001. The program has been routinely extended by both Republican and Democratic administrations.
In her announcement, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she “carefully considered conditions on the ground” in determining that it was time to end the program. She said Salvadorans will return home to rebuilt homes, roads and hospitals.
“The substantial disruption of living conditions caused by the earthquake no longer exist,” Nielsen said in a statement.
Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, said the federal government should be pursuing immigration reform with “compromise and thoughtfulness,” not mass deportation.
“First they came for Muslims – a group they wanted to deport solely based upon their ethnicity and religion,” Santiago said in a statement. “Now here we are a year later, and the president and his administration have unconscionably decided to deport over 250,000 Salvadorans living in the United States for absolutely no provocation or reason.”
The lawmakers are still drafting the bill’s language and plan to introduce it later this week. The legislation will be an urgency measure, which requires two-thirds approval in both chambers and is effective immediately after being signed by the governor.