HOUSTON - More than 200,000 immigrants from El Salvador may have to leave the United States in 2019.
This is after the Trump administration announced Monday it is ending special protections for Salvadoran immigrants or temporary protected status (TPS).
An immigration attorney said now is the time to sort out your options.
"Certainly a lot of people are worrying about what they can do and who they can trust to help them," said Bruce Coane, an immigration lawyer. "It's going to be confusing times and very shocking for people from El Salvador and for their kids, too. To me, if somebody needs to stay here, there's no reason to start packing your bags and leaving if you're from El Salvador."
Coane suggested several things to those impacted. If you've been in the US for more than 10 years and you're from El Salvador, he suggested looking into getting a green card.
If you're married to a U.S. citizen or there's another way to fix your status based on a family relationship, you should try that as well.
If it gets into the legal arena, Coane said there two possible defenses: One is if you've been here for 10 years, a family member is going to suffer extraordinary hardship if you were to get deported.
Coane said the other defense is political asylum, "because El Salvador is known as a dangerous place to go to right now, so folks can file for political asylum or the more technical thing if you're involved in court proceedings is called withholding of removal."
Coane is also certified in Florida.
"I saw the shock and awe of the Haitian people when it happened in South Florida, and yeah, I'm sure people will be in shock here," he said.
There are more than 80,000 people from El Salvador who live in Houston. The mayor said 19,000 will be directly impacted by the change.
He said the good news is that folks affected have 18 months to figure out what to do.
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