Oakland Unified to help Salvadoran students and their families

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- President Trump announced Monday his administration is ending the Temporary Protection Status Program for nearly 200,000 Salvadorans in the United States. Oakland Unified reacted by vowing to help those families who may face deportation.

Oakland schools have a good number of students of Salvadoran descent. Many of their parents were allowed to move and work here following the 2001 earthquakes that destroyed thousands of homes and devastated that country.

RELATED: Trump Administration to end special protections for Salvadorans

Most of these children were obviously born in the U.S. and their parents were here legally after President George W. Bush granted them temporary protective status.

Homeland Security now says, "El Salvador has sufficiently recovered from the natural disaster. The original conditions caused by the 2001 earthquakes no longer exist."

"Right now the Trump administration really is attacking people of color," said Gema Quetzal, a student at Life Academy in Oakland.

Quetzal's mother arrived in Oakland seeking political asylum and eventually became a legal resident. But many of their family members are here because of the Temporary Protection Status program.

RELATED: Families anxious after DHS ends special immigration status

"So many of our family members don't have anybody in our country so they would be going back to nothing," said Karine Najera.

Quetzal is also the Board of Education student director who supports Oakland Unified's efforts to work with families to get the proper legal screenings they need.

That's part of what the Sanctuary District Task Force does.

"If it is someone who has immigration issues, we'll work with them to get the legal aid they need," said John Sasaki, spokesperson for the Oakland Unified School District.

The Trump Administration now says the people affected have until September 2019 to apply for and receive permanent residency, which can be a difficult process.

"And so it's important for us to really talk about it and keep this conversation going because this affects our whole community, " expressed Quetzal.

The Salvadoran government has said it is not prepared to adequately handle the return of its nationals.

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