The U.S. administration will end the temporary protected status that has allowed some 200,000 people from El Salvador to stay legally in the United States for nearly 17 years, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said Monday.
However, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she's extending it for another 18 months to Sept. 9, 2019 in a bid to ensure "an orderly transition."
The move upends a status quo that has existed since 2001, when the then President George W. Bush extended temporary protected status to Salvadorans who were in the United States after major earthquakes hit the Latin American country.
The DHS now said in a news release that the problems brought by the earthquakes "no longer exist" and these Salvadorans should use the 18-month delay to either leave the United States or "seek an alternative lawful immigration status in the United States, if eligible."
To maintain their work authorization, these Salvadoran immigrants pay hundreds of dollars in fees for permits every 18 months.
Last week, the DHS said it would end the temporary protected status that has allowed some 2,500 Nicaragua citizens to live and work in the United States.
About 46,000 Haitians were already informed last year that their temporary protected status would end, while some 57,000 Hondurans granted this special protection will learn their fate in July.
When U.S. President Donald Trump took office one year ago, more than 300,000 immigrants were allowed to live in the United States under the temporary protected status, according to local media reports.