Two-hundred thousand immigrants from El Salvador, including more than 16,000 in New York, are affected by President Trump's decision to revoke their legal status and send them out of the country. Those with children born in the U.S. face an especially painful choice. NY1's Angi Gonzalez filed the following report:
Leticia Posada and Adela Fialos were both born in El Salvador, but they consider Woodhaven, Queens their home.
They have been living in the U.S. legally under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program and have not been to El Salvador in 20 years.
On Monday, however, President Trump announced that he will end protections for the sisters and the 200,000 Salvadorans with protected status, forcing them to leave the country in 18 months.
"What happens now? I have three kids — what happens? We need to go to my country? Me take my babies to my country?" said Posada.
Three of Posada's four children were born in the U.S. and have U.S. citizenship.
The president's decision creates an especially wrenching dilemma for Posada and parents like her, forcing them to choose between leaving their American-born children behind or taking them to a country entirely foreign to them, where crime is rampant and economic opportunities are few.
"My babies don't speak Spanish, don't understand anything in my country. Why did the president make this? Why?" Posada said.
The children caught in the middle are anxious and fearful, too.
Posada's husband is unaffected by the president's decision, because he has a green card allowing him to live and work in the U.S. He could stay in the country with their children, but their 11-year-old son Kiefer Malpartiba said it's hard to imagine living in a different country than his mother.
"Who is going to be there for me? Who am I going to say goodnight to?" Kiefer said.
Kiefer doesn't have to look far to find someone who can relate.
His aunt Adela and her husband both face the loss of their protected status. Their three children, Kiefer's cousins, are all U.S. citizens.
"I feel worried they are going to leave. Who is going to feed me and take me to school? I don't want to be separate," said Tristan Fialos.
17-year-old Paola Fialos wonders if Trump's decision means she'll have to take guardianship of her younger siblings to keep them here.
"I would have to take care of two children by myself," Paola said. "I'm not prepared for that kind of stuff. If my aunt leaves, my uncle can't take care of the kids himself, so I'll basically have five children on my hands," said Paola Fialos.
It's a possibility that scares Paola's mother. "It's terrifying to think of leaving her in charge of the kids," said Adela Fialos.
Both families said they are in the process of hiring attorneys to see if there is any way they will be able to stay intact in the country they call home.