Salvadoran Woman Considers What End Of Protected Status Means For Her Family

Originally published on January 8, 2018 10:35 pm
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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

We're going to talk now to someone who has that temporary protected status. Her name is Vanessa Velasco, and she and her husband came to the U.S. from El Salvador on a tourist visa about 18 years ago. Vanessa Velasco is on the line from San Francisco. Thanks for being with us today.

VANESSA VELASCO: Thank you for having me.

MCEVERS: And just tell us; what were your first thoughts today when you heard the news that the temporary status - temporary protected status would be revoked?

VELASCO: Well, we were expecting this announcement already. Even if you have the - at the bottom of your heart, you still have hope to hear a complete different news - didn't happen. When my husband - we see each other; we hug each other. And well, this is not over yet. At least they gave us an extension for 18 more months. And we will try to do everything we can to find a way to stay here and keep pushing because there are some piece of legislation that has already been introduced that can help to find a permanent solution.

MCEVERS: I just want to know about your life here in California. Since moving to the U.S., you've had three children. They are of course U.S. citizens. How old are they now?

VELASCO: Four, 12 and 17.

MCEVERS: OK. And then what are their plans? I mean, if you have to return to El Salvador, what will the children do?

VELASCO: The two youngest are coming with us, but the problem is our eldest daughter. She will be graduating this year. She's already applying to universities. And we already talked to her. And she will be left behind because we never been in the country since we left. Taking to other country in this stage of her life is going to be just catastrophic for her. And hopefully she can find a way for her to finance her studies and continue it to achieve a higher education.

MCEVERS: Do you know where you're going to go? You just said you haven't been back to El Salvador in all these years - almost 20 years.

VELASCO: Yes.

MCEVERS: And what's the plan then? Where're you going to go? Do you still have relatives there?

VELASCO: We still have relatives. We - maybe we'll start to look where we can afford a home over there. But as I say, that other option that we're going to explore - going back to the country is the last option that we have. The violence, the economic instability is not ready to receive us yet.

MCEVERS: It sounds like you're trying to stay. How will you do that?

VELASCO: Well, first we're going explore all the legal options that we have in the U.S. to see if there is something can be done for us - if we can legalize our status or try to see if we can apply for asylum in other countries.

MCEVERS: What do you think is the likelihood? I mean, what are - are you talking to lawyers? I mean, what are they saying?

VELASCO: Well, they have some things that we can try, but they say wait for the news. And after that, now, yeah, we can start to explore options. And that's where we're going right now. This week definitely, that's first priority.

MCEVERS: Well, Vanessa Velasco, thanks so much for talking to us, especially - I know you've got a cold. So we appreciate it.

VELASCO: Thank you.

MCEVERS: Vanessa Velasco and her family have temporary protected status. The Department of Homeland Security announced today the U.S. is ending TPS for Salvadorans. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.