This Monday, the Trump administration announced its decision to end the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) granted to nearly 200,000 Salvadorans immigrants. This designation has allowed citizens fleeing disastrous conditions following a series of devastating earthquakes to legally live and work in the United States for the past 17 years.Initially enacted in 2001, TPS was granted to undocumented immigrants from El Salvador under the Bush administration. As part of reconstruction efforts, TPS was implemented partially under the impression that Salvadorans seeking refuge in the U.S would send part of their earned income back to their relatives in the ravaged Central American nation. Once he took office, Former President Obama continued his predecessor’s legacy by renewing these protections, allowing the initial eighteen month policy to span across almost two decades. Now, with President Trump’s decision to terminate them, affected Salvadorans have until September of 2019 to leave the country and their lives here behind. 

Objectively speaking, it is true that the original cause for these protections—damage by the 2001 earthquakes—have long since dissipated. And for that, the administration can legally justify their discontinuation of the program. However, decisions involving the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of individuals should not be scrutinized for legality so much as it it should be for practicality and morality. Unsurprisingly, both are at a deficit with this decision.

It is wholly impractical and entirely unreasonable to uproot hundreds of thousands of law-abiding, tax-paying members of our country’s economy en masse out of the United States, especially to one without the economical and political infrastructure to support this influx of repatriotization. El Salvador still today remains to be riddled by intense gang violence and drought—reasons cited by the previous administrations for their renewal of the program. Furthermore, beneficiaries of these protections have sent back billions of dollars back to El Salvador, so much so that $4.6 billion of remittance was received by El Salvador in 2016, around 17% of their GDP. Removing these protections thus places undue burden not only on the individuals themselves, but also to their country of origin. 

Practicality and necessity aside, the decision to end TPS. for these immigrants is also inhumanely cruel. Many of these immigrants have raised families, bought homes and ingrained themselves into the fabric of American civil society within the nearly two decade period in which they were provided protection. To remove them would effectively rip apart these families and force individuals to choose between the constant threat of deportation or moving to a country they either longer recognize. 

The Trump administration cannot be allowed to go unchecked in their political chess game that makes a pawn of the most vulnerable among us. Decisions like this not only affect the families of these immigrants, but also the communities they have become invaluable parts of—including the Research Triangle. According to the Center for American Progress, 5,900 Salvadorans T.P.S. recipients with families—including roughly 6,200 American-born children—call North Carolina home. For the same reason the Duke community took the mantle of leadership against the threats of DACA cancellation, the same should be done for the Salvadorans in the face of Trump’s TPS Repeal. As a prominent national university that claims to stand behind inclusivity and diversity, Duke has the chance to draw the line against the anti-immigrant narrative emanating from Washington—a narrative that has for too long skirted human lives for the sake of political expediency.