Hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the United States are at risk of losing a special status that lets them live and work temporarily in the country if President Donald Trump’s administration cracks down on a program known as TPS, or Temporary Protected Status.

More than 250,000 of those affected are from El Salvador and Honduras, and nearly 50,000 are Haitian. Many have worked, built lives, and started families in the US in the years since they arrived.

TPS is a temporary fix for immigrants already in the United States that don’t have legal status and cannot now return to their home countries because of natural disaster, conflict or other extraordinary conditions.

Hondurans were granted the status in 1999 after Hurricane Mitch wreaked havoc on the Central American country. It was extended to El Salvador in 2001 after a huge earthquake, multiple aftershocks and landslides that destroyed tens of thousands of homes. And Haitians were given TPS status after a devastating earthquake in 2010 - that status was extended in May but for a shorter period than in the past. Several other countries also have TPS status.

TPS was signed into law by the US Congress 27 years ago, but the White House decides which countries participate and for how long.

TPS recipients are often older and many are now parents. There are an estimated 273,000 children that are US citizens whose parents are recipients from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti, raising fears that families could be split up or pushed underground if the programme is curtailed.

Now, many fear they will be deported to a country they haven’t been to in decades with immigrant advocacy groups worried Trump will refuse to renew the status of some of the countries covered by TPS.

The programme has no path to citizenship, although recipients pay taxes, have jobs, mortgages and own small businesses. Advocates are pushing for legislation that would provide a pathway to becoming a US citizen.

Critics say the program allows participants to repeatedly extend their temporary status and that it should be overhauled or scrapped.So, what does the future hold for TPS recipients? We discuss on Thursday. 

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with: 

Cinthia Flores @cinthianflores
Lawyer, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights

Jessica Vaughan @JessicaV_CIS
Director of Policy Studies, Center for Immigration Studies

Myrtha Abraham
TPS recipient 

Read more: 

Immigrants fear loss of humanitarian program under Trump - Associated Press
'The worst battle is the one you don't fight:' Texans with Temporary Protected Status lobby Washington - Dallas News  

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.