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El Salvador US congress urged to allow nearly 200,000 Salvadoran refugees to stay

EL SALVADOR urged the US Congress on yesterday to allow almost 200,000 refugees from the country to stay in the United States.

Salvadorian Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez said he was confident new legislation could be put in place before the refugees lose their “temporary protected status” on September 9 2019.

US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said earlier that about 190,000 Salvadorians living there since the 2001 earthquake disaster in their country would have to leave by then or face deportation.

They represent about a 10th of the two million citizens of the Central American nation living in the US. Many of the refugees have since married and had children, and send significant amounts of money back home to their families.

Ms Nielsen insisted El Salvador had received significant international aid and that much of the country’s infrastructure had been rebuilt since the catastrophe. She added that the deadline gave Congress the opportunity to intervene.

El Salvador’s ambassador Jean Manes said there was now more urgency to improving conditions in El Salvador, with about 12 per cent of its citizens living in the US.

Congress is already debating possible legislation to replace previous president Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) scheme granting temporary residency to about 800,000 illegal immigrants brought to the US as children, before President Donald Trump begins to deport them.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer accused Mr Trump of “a series of unreasonable demands” as conditions of a permanent Daca replacement, including $18 billion (£13.3bn) for a wall along the Mexican border.

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