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Trump Administration to Soon Decide Fate of Thousands of Temporary Immigrants

A supporter amongst a coalition of community leaders and immigrant advocates demonstrates outside U.S. immigration offices, calling on federal authorities to designate Ecuador for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for its nationals in the aftermath of an earthquake, in New York, June 1, 2016.

In the coming months President Donald Trump’s administration will decide whether to extend eligibility for thousands of foreign nationals living in the country under a legal provision called “temporary protected status.”

The protected status is offered to people from certain countries where it could be potentially dangerous for them to return. Countries whose citizens are eligible for the temporary protected status are designated as experiencing “extraordinary and temporary conditions” that include civil war, or some other type of armed conflict, and natural disasters.

The temporary status allows the U.S. federal government to shield these immigrants, some of whom have lived in the country for two decades, from deportation and provide them the legal ability to gain employment in the U.S.

The legal framework is meant to allow the immigrants to stay in the U.S. temporarily, until it becomes safe to for them to return to their home countries. Many countries, however, have been in crisis for decades and, as a result, the temporary protection status of their citizens has been extended.

The temporary authorization for residents of Sudan and South Sudan, of whom there are 1,088 currently living in the United States, is set to expire on November 2. Sudan received its first designation in 1997 and was re-designated in 1999, 2004 and 2013.

Notice to be published ‘shortly’

The Department of Homeland Security will need to make a decision on these immigrants’ eligibility by the end of next week, in order to comply with federal law requiring notification 60 days prior to the deadline.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued a statement to CNN saying it has already made a decision regarding these immigrants and a notice would be published “shortly.” It did not say what decision was reached.

In addition to those immigrants from Sudan and South Sudan, the temporary protection statuses for Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua are all to expire in January, so a decision on those countries will need to be made by November. There are 150,000 immigrants from those three countries living in the United States under the temporary authorization.

El Salvador, which has 263,000 citizens living under the temporary authorization, will see its status expire in March.

In order to qualify for the temporary authorization, residents from the affected countries must prove they’ve lived in the U.S. continuously since their home countries were designated unsafe.

Honduras gained its designation in 1999 and El Salvador got its designation in 2001. So, if the temporary status for these countries is revoked, its citizens could be forced to return after living in the United States for nearly two decades.