NEW JERSEY (FOX5NY.COM) - Due to natural disasters, armed conflict violence or an epidemic, the United States has granted temporary protected status, also known as TPS, to nationals from 10 nations, allowing them to remain in the U.S. legally, obtain a work permit, a driver's license, and a temporary Social Security card.
But this week, the Trump administration announced the end of the program for the largest group of TPS holders—Salvadorians.
"It's very sad because I have family members who have TPS," Yesenia Ruano told Fox 5. "They are homeowners, they have families here and now they don't know what will happen. They're very worried."
More than 200,000 Salvadorians living in the U.S. will have to find a way to remain in the country after September 9, 2019—the date the program will be terminated.
"We have faith in God that our leaders will be touched and there will be a reform," said Jose Guardado, who has been in this country for 23 years. He was protected under political asylum and then was granted TPS.
"I've paid taxes, never lived off welfare," Guardado said. "I worked hard to obtain what I have."
He is now looking to see how he can stay in this country after the 18 months are up.
Immigration attorney Cesar Estela is telling people to not panic.
"Yes, this is an end of a temporary program," Estela said. "But if you re-register and you do things intelligently and cautiously at the same time, you should be able to figure out a solution for yourself."
What is important is for the community not to panic. You have 18 months to figure out your next step. Estela said you should speak to a lawyer to find out if you could have other avenues open to you, such as being sponsored by either a relative or an employer.
"TPS is one of these programs that you lose if you commit a crime, so you can't renew your TPS if you've committed a crime," Estela said. "So the people who are on TPS—the 200,000 or so people—generally don't have any criminal record."
He said that Salvadorians with TPS should still renew their TPS status.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services urges Salvadorians with TPS to not submit re-registration applications until the registration period is announced.