More Than 250,000 People May Be Forced to Leave the US After Trump's Latest Announcement.

(Via CNN)

They number upwards of 250,000.

They've lived legally in the United States for nearly two decades.

And now, they have less than two years to leave, find another legal way to stay or face deportation.

The Department of Homeland Security is ending "temporary protected status," or TPS, for Salvadorans, according to a source familiar with the decision.

    Here's a look at some of the key events and issues at play:

    The 7.7-magnitude quake that struck El Salvador in January 2001 was the worst to hit the country in a decade. Then, two powerful quakes shook the country the following month.

    Neighborhoods were buried. Homes collapsed. More than 1,100 people were killed. Another 1.3 million were displaced.

    The devastation spurred a decision that March by then-US Attorney General John Ashcroft: Immigrants from El Salvador who'd been in the United States since February 2001 could apply for temporary protected status, which would protect them from deportation and allow them to get work permits. It was an 18-month designation.

    Now, it's been nearly 17 years. Time after time, officials from different administrations have determined conditions in El Salvador hadn't improved enough for migrants with TPS to return. On Monday, the Trump administration decided to end protections with an 18-month wind-down period, the source said.

    Estimates differ for exactly how many immigrants the decision will affect. There were 263,282 Salvadoran TPS beneficiaries at the end of 2016, according to the latest statistics provided to CNN by US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Activists and experts have put the number of Salvadorans who could lose protections closer to 200,000, noting that official statistics likely include people who are no longer in the program because their immigration status has changed or they have left the United States.

    Immigrant rights advocates say it is unfair and cruel to end TPS for Salvadorans who've built lives, paid taxes, contributed to the economy and raised families for nearly two decades in the United States. They also argue that violence and widespread poverty make it unsafe for migrants to return to El Salvador.

    Those who support ending TPS for Salvadorans and other immigrants, such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform, say there's a reason the designation was referred to as "temporary" and argue that conditions in El Salvador are good enough for migrants to return.

    El Salvador is about the size of New Jersey. And it's nearly 2,000 miles from Washington.

    But the small country of 6.2 million people has become a big deal in the US immigration debate.

    Even before the earthquakes, Salvadoran immigrants had been streaming into the United States. A major driver: the country's civil war, which lasted from 1980 to 1992. Experts estimate the conflict sent more than 25% of El Salvador's residents fleeing for their lives. More than 330,000 Salvadorans came to the United States between 1985 and 1990, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

    And in recent years, while immigration from Mexico has slowed, the rate of immigration from El Salvador and other Central American countries has been on the rise.