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International news briefs

El Salvadoreans’ revoked legal status

On Monday, January 8, the Trump administration announced the termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) permits for more than 250,000 Salvadoreans within 18 months. Those who currently live and work in the United States now have until September 9, 2019 to find another way to stay in the country or to make arrangements to move. TPS is a program created by the U.S. in 1990 meant to authorize immigrants from countries affected by violence, natural disasters, or disease to live and work legally in the country. The status has been granted to El Salvador several times over the last twenty years, most notably when two earthquakes devastated the country in 2001. Since then, according to the Center for Migration Studies, these Salvadoreans have become one of the best integrated groups of immigrants to America: they represent more than 135,000 households, 85 per cent can speak some English, 88 per cent are part of the labour force, and 10 per cent are married to U.S. citizens. Further affected by the termination are nearly 200,000 children born in the U.S. to Salvadoreans with TPS. Families will be broken up as parents who have been stripped of their TPS will not be automatically allowed to stay with their children, who have U.S. citizenship.

The Department of Homeland Security stated in its official report that “the substantial disruption of living conditions caused by the earthquake no longer exists.” Nevertheless, the report ignores the fact that El Salvador is currently one of the most dangerous countries in the world largely due to gang violence: in 2015, the country had 109 homicides per 100,000 people, a number 22 times higher than the United States. The Salvadorean government has been lobbying the U.S. to extend protections, but the Trump administration seems adamant as it also looks to determine the fate of TPS for Honduras and other countries currently supported by the status.

Written with material from BBC news, and the U.S Department of Homeland Security report

Protests in Iran

Two weeks have passed since the beginning of popular protests in Iran. The demonstrations have resulted in 22 deaths and more than 1,000 arrests, marking the largest protest movement in the country since the Iranian Green Movement, wherein protesters demanded the removal of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad following allegations of electoral fraud in the 2009 Iranian presidential elections.

People have taken the streets to voice their discontent with the Iranian government: following the 2015 nuclear deal, which lifted crippling sanctions on the country, inflation and unemployment have persisted. Though the central message of the protests is difficult to discern, there appear to be principal themes: people are expressing their opposition to the Supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, by ripping down portraits of the religious leader on the streets. Secondly, rising unemployment and other economic issues, like high prices for food and gas, highlight the corruption impeding equitable distribution of benefits in spite of the economic growth that has been taking place since 2015. Moreover, youth unemployment rates stagnate at around 24 per cent for citizens aged 15 to 24. The declining living standards have spurred negative public sentiment against the Iranian government.

While the country has now returned to a calmer state, the resentment that fuelled the protests has yet to be addressed. Some experts have called the situation in Iran a “crisis of expectation,” as many of the promises of last year’s presidential elections have yet to be fulfilled. A U.S. intelligence official stated that even though demonstrations had more or less ended, “concerns were not going away, as they are symptomatic of long-standing grievances that have been left to fester.”

Written with material from BBC news, CNN, and VOA news.