WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - The future of tens of thousands of DMV residents is now up in the air following a new government directive.
On Monday, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen announced the US would no longer recognize the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador.
TPS allows certain foreign nationals to stay in America if their homeland has experienced a major war or natural disaster.
In 2001, a massive earthquake struck El Salvador with 2,500 aftershocks.
In a statement, DHS said it decided to remove TPS protection for Salvadorans because much of that country has since been redeveloped.
"The substantial disruption of living conditions caused by the earthquake no longer exist," the statement read.
There are 200,000 TPS holders from El Salvador in the United States. Thirty-thousand of those TPS holders live in the DMV.
Juan Cortez, of Maryland, moved to the United States from El Salvador in the 1990s. He is worried about what life will be like with TPS protection.
"In this country, you have an opportunity," he said. "In my country, you no have an opportunity."
Cortez has raised his family in America. He has also bought a house and a brand new truck for his plow business.
Salvadorans who once held TPS status have until September 2019 to leave the country or lawfully change their immigration status.
A group supporting the White House's move to end their stay said it lets the government ensure the TPS program is available for future emergencies.
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