Whether the Trump administration will renew Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador remains uncertain, but it is clear that it will affect Long Island, where there’s a large community of Salvadoran TPS holders.
For Pedro A. Quintanilla, of Westbury, the potential effects are even more apparent as a recently elected member of the local school board of education.
Long Island Wins recently spoke with Quintanilla for some insight into how the threat of TPS’ loss may affect the Westbury School District, which he said is about 75 precent Hispanic, with the majority being Salvadoran.
The local Hispanic community, he said, has already suffered amid the surge of anti-immigrant rhetoric that has burgeoned since Trump took office. And, those fears are now manifesting into tangible policy changes that may disrupt the fabric of the Salvadoran neighborhood.
Quintanilla himself immigrated from El Salvador in 1980. Since then, he has built a career spanning 25 years around banking and financial information technology. He now works for himself as a private investor.
And, with a newfound flexibility, he ran for and was elected to the Westbury School District board of education, where he can see the effects on the community, and its youth, firsthand.
“I can tell you specifically, when we had the presidential election last year, and President Trump, for the children and their families there was a feeling of forbearance and despair because the entire campaign was anti-immigrant and anti-Hispanic,” Quintanilla said.
Quintanilla added that the effects of a negative TPS decision will be far-reaching, since so many Salvadorans own businesses and are also homeowners.
“For Long Island, if TPS doesn’t go through, they’re going to see a negative impact in towns and cities on Long Island. We are going to see a downturn in housing activity, it will affect prices, it will affect state taxes, also it will affect income taxes,” he said. “There is going to be an overall downturn in economic activity. An economic impact that is going to be measurable, that I’m sure of.”
Quintanilla also cited Salvadoran TPS holders’ employment rate, which is estimated to be 88 percent, as well as their U.S.-born children, estimated to total 192,700 nationwide. Quintanilla stressed that such immigrants have become firmly established into the bedrock of communities on Long Island and across the country.
“The one thing people don’t talk about or mention is that when you take a person out of this country that has U.S. citizen [children], you are leaving the children adrift. They may be an orphan, or left with a relative,” Quintanilla said. “So now, as a society, we are condemning these children for less opportunities they could’ve had if their parents stayed and supported them. And, as a society, we will pay the price for that.”
The decision to renew Salvadoran TPS is expected by Monday, January 8.