AURORA | A federal judge in California temporarily blocked the end of the temporary protected status program Wednesday, creating some relief for hundreds of thousands of immigrants legally living in the U.S.

Many of those TPS recipients call Aurora home — at least 4,000, according to the El Salvador consulate, located in Aurora. 

The Trump Administration said in a memo early this year it would end the TPS program that covers some immigrants from Haiti, Sudan, Nicaragua and El Salvador. The Department of Homeland Security said conditions that prompted the program have improved enough to warrant the return of the immigrants.

For the thousands of Salvadoran immigrants living in Colorado, the news is welcomed. But Aurora Congressman Mike Coffman said in a statement it’s only temporary. 

“While this decision is important, it is only temporary. Members of Congress who want to protect TPS families will still need to work for a legislative solution that will provide a path to permanent residency. I have a large Salvadoran community in my Congressional district that has been legally living and working here for almost two decades,” he said in a released statement. “They have had children and grandchildren here, bought homes, started small businesses, and they have become a part of the fabric of our community. They should not be forced to leave.”

Coffman sent a letter to DHS last month urging the agency to extend TPS. In that letter Coffman said conditions haven’t improved as much as the administration claims.

He’s also sponsored legislation extending TPS, applying a uniform date to ending the various programs and creating a path to citizenship.

TPS recipients living in Aurora was the focus of a Sentinel investigation earlier this year. Many interviewed for the story said returning to El Salvador is not part of their plan, as they fear deadly gang violence.

US District Judge Edward Chen said in his ruling the Trump administration may have violated the Constitution in eliminating the program, which was set to end Sept. 9, 2019 for Salvadoran immigrants. 

“There is also evidence that this may have been done in order to implement and justify a pre-ordained result desired by the White House. Plaintiffs have also raised serious questions whether the actions taken by the Acting Secretary or Secretary was influenced by the White House and based on animus against non-white, non-European immigrants in violation of Equal Protection guaranteed by the Constitution,” Chen wrote in the ruling. “The issues are at least serious enough to preserve the status quo.”

The injunction is effective immediately.

— KARA MASON, Staff Writer