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With Temporary Protected Status Removed For Salvadorans, Immigrants In Maryland Face Deportation

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The Department of Homeland Security decided on Jan. 8 to end "temporary protected status," or TPS, for Salvadorans. Now local organizations are stepping in to answer questions from those affected.

Catholic Charities' Esperanza Center is offering their services to assist the Salvadoran community.

"We are educating the community to make sure everybody is prepared and understands the announcements and understands their remedies," says Heather Benno, Catholic Charities' Esperanza Center attorney.

The Trump administration recently announced it was ending TPS for Salvadoran immigrants.

RELATED: Trump Defends Immigration Stance In Tweets

A 7.7-magnitude earthquake that struck El Salvador in January 2001 was the worst to hit the country in years. The country was hit by two powerful quakes just a month later.

The devastation -- which left more than 1,100 people killed and more than 1 million displaced -- led to a decision in March 2001 by then-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to allow Salvadoran immigrants who'd been in America since February 2001 to apply for TPS. The status offered respite from deportation and allowed them to apply for work permits.

Now, nearly 17 years later, DHS says El Salvador has been restored. A decision that forces about 250,000 Salvadorans across the U.S., and about 20,000 in Maryland, to leave the country.

"You would see a noticeable difference. You would be missing your neighbors and we don't want to see this happen," says Rena Daly of Catholic Charities' Esperanza Center.

Concerns of deportation come on the heels of President Donald Trump's controversial comments he reportedly made during a White House meeting last week about immigration directed at Haiti, African countries and El Salvador. The president reportedly questioned why people from "s***hole countries" are coming to America. Trump denies using the word.

RELATED: Haitian Church Holds Prayer Vigil In Aftermath Of Trump's Alleged Immigration Comments

But his alleged comments further reinforce that Salvadoran immigrants' status is in limbo.

"They are contributing members to our society, they contribute to our economy, they contribute to our faith-based communities and they contribute to our overall fabric of what makes Baltimore great," Daly said.

People who have concerns are urged to contact the Esperanza Center and make an appointment. For more information on the center's immigration legal services, visit click here.

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