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From Mass. To El Salvador, Families Are Bracing For The End Of TPS

A couple walk hand-in-hand into Panaderia Pacita Quintanilla in San Vicente, El Salvador. Photo by Jesse Costa for WBUR

A couple walk hand-in-hand into Panaderia Pacita Quintanilla in San Vicente, El Salvador. Photo by Jesse Costa for WBUR

Isabel Quintanilla is FaceTiming with her daughter, Irma Flores. This is the easiest way for the two to keep in touch. Quintanilla lives in El Salvador and hasn’t met her new great-grandson. She asks her daughter, Flores, how the baby is sleeping these days.

For almost 20 years, Flores has been living in Massachusetts with TPS. The temporary immigration status allows people from countries devastated by natural disasters or civil war to stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation. Since 2001, when El Salvador was hit by back-to-back earthquakes, its TPS membership has been regularly renewed. But earlier this year, the Trump administration announced it is ending the program for Salvadorans.

Leaving Family, Losing Money

Flores, who lives in Haverhill, Massachusetts, says it’s hard to comprehend the thought of returning to El Salvador.

“It’s, it’s difficult,” Flores says with a long sigh. “I never had the time to ask about my own family. I just need that time to figure it out: ‘OK, do we have to make some decisions?’ “

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