It was nearly two decades ago that Miguel Mejia came to the U.S. from El Salvador, seeking a better life for his family. This year, on Thanksgiving, he celebrated what could be one of his last in the country.
“It’s really sad,” said Mejia, “So many families separated.”
Currently, Mejia and his wife live legally in East Boston under Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which is granted to foreign nationals whose home country is determined to be unstable. This month, the Trump administration announced it would be ending the program for Haitian and Nicaraguan participants. Mejia, whose status expires in March of next year, expects El Salvador’s program to end next.
“Just getting taken away from your family isn’t easy, and we see in the news that children and their families are taken away,” said Mejia’s daughter, Amalia Mejia.
At age 7, Amalia moved to the U.S. to be with her father. Now 19, she is part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which is also scheduled to end.
“It’s emotional because you’re so used to your family you’re so used to their support,” Amalia explained, “And without them, basically, you’re nobody.”
There are approximately 200,000 Salvadorans living in the U.S. under TPS. The end of DACA could impact as many as 800,000 people, who have signed up for the program since it began in 2012.
“I pray to God. I try to be positive,” said Mejia.
But if Mejia loses his TPS status, he plans to pursue other options to stay. Because he owns a home and business, he hopes there will be an alternative. If not, he plans to move his entire family back to El Salvador, even though his youngest daughter was born in the U.S.
“It’s sad, said Amalia, “I just have faith in God and just hope for the best.”