Poetry News

Javier Zamora Laments Potential End to Temporary Protections for Salvadorans

By Harriet Staff
Javier Zamora

PBS's Patty Gorena Morales meets with Northern California poet Javier Zamora to discuss the Trump Administration's recent decision to end an amnesty program that enabled thousands of El Salvadorans to relocate to the United States after a pair of crippling earthquakes hit the country several decades ago. "Zamora began writing poetry a few months later, at the age of 17, in response to these mobilizations and a wave of emboldened young immigrants 'coming out' as undocumented," Morales explains in her PBS article. Let's begin there: 

He recalls these experiences in his debut poetry collection, “Unaccompanied,” published by Copper Canyon Press in September. Writing his first poems in 2007, he said, felt like being in a vacuum. No one was talking about these things.

Last Monday, the Trump administration announced it would revoke the protections, known as Temporary Protected Status, that have allowed nearly 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants, including Zamora and his parents, to remain in this country legally.

Salvadorans received permission to be in the U.S. almost two decades ago after a pair of devastating earthquakes struck their country. Arguing that the original conditions that justified the temporary humanitarian program no longer exist, the administration has said that they must return home or stay in the U.S. illegally.

Zamora came to the United States at the age of 9 to join his parents in Marin County, California. Before that, he grew up in a town called La Herradura, living for the most part with his grandparents in the aftermath of the Salvadoran civil war. Thousands were tortured, killed or “disappeared” during the 1980s conflict that pitted government forces against leftist guerrilla groups, with much of the violence attributed to the U.S-backed Salvadoran military.

It was always a fear, said Zamora, that a new administration could end the program and force them to go back to a place still mired in violence.

Read more at PBS NewsHour.

Originally Published: January 18th, 2018