Thousands of immigrants in Texas hope the courts or the election will save their protected status

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Gerson Bonilla, who came to Texas from El Salvador, runs a heating, ventilation and air conditioning business in Houston with a dozen employees including his two brothers and other family members. Credit: Annie Mulligan for The Texas Tribune

Despite knowing that everything he’s worked for over the past three decades could be wiped out within months, Gerson Bonilla hasn't started thinking about coming up with a Plan B.

Bonilla, 49, fled his native El Salvador in 1989 during that country's violent civil war and received permission to legally stay under a humanitarian program called Temporary Protective Status, which allows citizens of countries experiencing conflict, natural disasters or other emergencies to take temporary refuge in the U.S.

The program was established in 1990 under President George H.W. Bush and currently offers protection for more than 300,000 immigrants living in the U.S. In 2017, about 45,000 people from El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti lived in Texas under the program, according to a report by the Center for American Progress. Those families had a combined 53,800 U.S. citizen children, according to the report.