January 17, 2018 / 2:09 AM / 10 months ago

El Salvador eyes work scheme with Qatar for migrants facing exit from U.S.

FILE PHOTO: Deportees wait to be processed at an immigration facility after a flight carrying illegal immigrants from the U.S. arrived in San Salvador, El Salvador, January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas/File Photo

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - El Salvador is discussing a deal with Qatar under which Salvadoran migrants facing the loss of their right to stay in the United States could live and work temporarily in the Middle Eastern country, the government of the Central American nation said on Tuesday.

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration said that as of September 2019, it would eliminate the temporary protected status, or TPS, that allows some 200,000 Salvadorans to live in the United States without fear of deportation.

Presidential communications chief Eugenio Chicas said El Salvador was in talks to see how Salvadorans could be employed in Qatar, a wealthy country of some 2.6 million people that is scheduled to host the soccer World Cup in 2022.

“The kingdom of Qatar ... has held out the possibility of an agreement with El Salvador whereby Salvadoran workers could be brought across in phases (to Qatar),” Chicas told reporters.

After an unspecified period, the Salvadorans would return home, Chicas added, without saying how many workers the program could encompass.

El Salvador’s foreign minister, Hugo Martinez, is in Qatar until Friday and said in a statement that Salvadorans could work in engineering, aircraft maintenance, construction and agriculture.

Martinez also noted that Qatar had offered to provide health services to the Central American country, which is struggling with a weak economy and gang violence.

Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Editing by Peter Cooney

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