With nothing to go back home to, many Salvadorans that have been living in the United States as Temporary Protected Status holders now face an uncertain future. For months, administration officials have discussed ending special qualifications that have allowed immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally from El Salvador and nine other countries to stay and work in the U.S.

Salvadorans call The Golden State home

California is home to the largest community of Temporary Protected Status holders from El Salvador, the majority of whom are living in Los Angeles. Salvadorans make up the most significant portion of Temporary Protection Status beneficiaries in the United States. The program was created to give temporary legal protection to citizens of countries experiencing conflict, environmental disaster or other conditions that prevent them from returning safely.

Expiration date

With the recent decision by homeland security to terminate temporary immigration status for the Central American country, nearly 200,000 Salvadorans who have lived here for over a decade need to leave the country.

Salvadorans in the program will have until September 2019 to get everything in order. After that point, TPS holders will no longer have permission to stay in the country legally. President Salvador Sánchez Cerén cited drought, poverty and widespread gang violence as reasons to keep the protective order in place. The capital city of San Salvador is considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

For Salvadorans, staying in the U.S. means risking deportation and going home symbolizes instability and insecurities; a decision for most that forces them to choose between the lesser of two evils.