COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Trump Administration is ending the Temporary Protected Status program that covered the largest group of foreigners, Salvadorians who fled earthquakes that rattled the nation in 2001.
But, critics argue it is inhumane to kick out people who have lived, worked and started families in the U.S for almost two decades.
“These are people, who have been living by the rules getting background checks every 18 months, getting their fingerprints for more than 20 years. Time to give Salvadorans and all TPS holders, a direct path to citizenship."
Congress could intervene with a deal as senators are discussing to reform immigration policy.
Thousands of Salvadoran immigrants call Colorado home. NewsChannel 13's Cinthia Maldonado spoke to one of them today.
Temporary Protected Status also known as TPS for Salvadorans living in the U.S will expire in September of next year but one expert I talked to says options are limited; either find a way to become a legalized citizen or face deportation.
This is footage of the estimated 7.7 earthquake that struck El Salvador in 2001.
“Ay, señor protégemelos, señor mío."
Large landslides killed at least 944 and injured over 5,500.
Glendy Cruz makes popusas for a living. A traditional Salvadoran dish made of a thick corn tortilla stuffed with a savory filling.
Now, she's a U.S Citizen living in Colorado Springs but spent most of her life in El Salvador and Guatemala.
"I’m very sad right now."
She says President Trump's decision will make a drastic change in people's lives.
"How they pay there is nothing compared to here. Even if I had the minimum pay here I can survive, over there it's not possible"
Immigration attorney Alex McShiras says Congress created TPS in 2001 and it's allowed many foreigners to settle and start a life here.
"Nationwide there's approximately 263,500 people with TPS.”
Experts say Salvadorans are faced with two options. Either find a way to stay legally or get deported.
"Everyone’s case is different! A lot of them have left and come back on what's called Advanced Parole and that can show they have a legal entrance to the United States."
But as Glendy explains, gangs and poverty are also major problems in the country.
"Everyday die people even the kids. They don't respect kids and also the old people. They don't care. The poor people are very poor they can't find jobs."
In the past, immigrants were able to renew their TPS every 18 months but McShiras explains that program never actually guaranteed a permanent stay.
According to the White House, TPS is no longer needed because conditions caused by the 2001 earthquakes have improved. When it was first approved the protection period was supposed to last just 18 months.