On Monday, government officials announced the decision to end Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, for 200,000 El Salvadorians who live in the United States.

TPS provides temporary lawful status to individuals in the US who have fled extreme hardship in their countries such as armed conflict or a natural disaster.

El Salvador’s protections were a result of earthquakes in 2001 that left the country devastated.

El Centro Hispano community engagement and advocacy manager Eliazar Posada says that due to violence and other circumstances, El Salvador is still not ready and safe for returning TPS holders.

“In the last 17 years, our El Salvadorian folks who are here with TPS created lives. Many of them own homes and businesses. In North Carolina, there are about 13,000 TPS holders with another 11,000 or so children who are US born. So, it’s very significant for North Carolina,” said Posada.

El Salvador is not the first country to have their TPS ended. Last year, the protections were ended for Sudan, Nicaragua and Haiti. El Salvadorians with TPS will have until September 9, 2019, to change status or leave the US.

“Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham have all passed resolutions in support of TPS folks, and at those meetings we had significant turnout from the community,” Posada said.

While happy with community support and turnout, Posada says El Centro Hispano sees the best solution to be a complete overhaul of the entire immigration system.

“We’re seeing this with other “benefits” that immigration allows for, like for example, DACA being another one of those,” said Posada. “These are all band aids to the real issue that is the immigration system. It’s broken; people are waiting years in line for even an interview, the process is so complicated.”

Posada says the most effective way to get your voice heard is to call or send a letter to your representative or get involved locally by contacting El Centro Hispano.

On Saturday, a press conference will be held with the National Association of TPS followed by a “Know your rights” info session about TPS at 3 pm at United Church of Chapel Hill.

For more information, visit their website.