Storm water tunnels. New Metro lines and train stations. Airport shuttles. These are just a few of the construction projects Salvadoran workers have built for the residents of Washington, D.C., over the past few decades. But now, as Nelson Schwartz of The New York Times recently documented, these workers are at risk of losing their jobs and being deported from the United States.
They are among 400,000 immigrants from six nations whose legal immigration status, based on violence or environmental disaster in their native lands, was revoked last year by the Trump administration, which argues that conditions there have improved enough for them to return.
The administration’s decision will cause economic ripples in other cities, including Houston, another center of Salvadoran immigration. But few will feel it more directly than Washington, where contractors are already facing labor shortages. Roughly a fifth of the capital’s construction workers are in the United States because of the program, known as temporary protected status.
Temporary protected status does not provide a path to citizenship, but most of these workers never thought they would face deportation, Schwartz reported. They have been in the United States legally for years. Some have bought homes and cars and have settled into middle-class lives. Many have children who are American citizens.