Charlotte Salvadorans In Limbo After Temporary Legal Status Ended

Jan 8, 2018

45-year-old Edgardo Orellana came to Unisal, the Latin American non-profit in Charlotte, for answers after the Trump Administration announced it would end temporary protected status for Salvadorans.
Credit Alex Olgin / WFAE

Hundreds of Salvadoran families living in Charlotte will likely be impacted by the Trump Administration’s decision to rescind temporary protected status for these immigrants. Many are trying to get answers about what this means for them.

Salvadorans have been frantically contacting Unisal, a Latin American non-profit in Charlotte, trying to get answers. 45-year-old Edgardo Orellana came to the U.S. from El Salvador in 1998 to escape violence. He’s lived in Charlotte for 14 years, has six children here and a good job as a welder. He was relieved to hear about the grace period of 18 months. But after that he said he isn’t sure what he’s going to do.

“I don’t know. I am scared. You know, Honduras, Nicaragua have the same [status] as El Salvador. [We] wait and get scared,” said Orellana.

Last year, the Trump Administration announced it’s ending temporary protected status for Nicaraguans. This same status for Hondurans expires in July, but could still be extended.  

Orellana lived in the U.S. nearly half his life and doesn’t want to go back to his hometown of Chalatenango in the northern part of El Salvador.

“It’s hard for [me to go] back when [I] don’t have nothing there,” he said.

Orellana said it’ll be hard to find a good job, and with the high levels of crime and violence he says it is dangerous. The Department of Homeland Security said it is ended the program because the original conditions caused by the 2001 earthquake no longer exist. That was when DHS granted Salvadorans this latest temporary protected status.

It is not clear how many people have this protected status in Charlotte. The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce estimates as of 2016, there are about 8,500 native Salvadorans living in Mecklenburg County.