[Update below]

In a conference room above a Hindu temple in Woodside, Queens, past a statue of Shiva, a large group of Nepali immigrants gathered last night to seek solace and light candles.

Earlier in the day, the Washington Post had reported that documents from the Department of Homeland Security indicate the Trump Administration is about to end Temporary Protected Status for immigrants from Nepal. That means the 9,000 Nepalis who are temporary residents would face deportation after June 24th, 2019.

One of them is Rajesh Shrestha. He moved to the US in 2015, after an earthquake in Gorkha, Nepal, that killed 9,000 and injured 22,000. Of the Nepalis who have TPS, 85 percent of them live in New York City, many of them in Woodside and surrounding neighborhoods.

Shrestha, 44, funds the education of two nieces and a nephew in Nepal by working as a barback in Manhattan. He’s been praying, he said. He’s in shock. He doesn’t know how his family will function if he’s forced to return home.

“I’m thinking that, if I lose this job, and if I can’t afford their schools, if I cannot help them, I cannot imagine what will be their futures. Maybe they can’t reach their dreams,” Shrestha said, adding that his nephew is autistic.

Nepal is poor. One-quarter of its residents live below the poverty line; about 12 percent make less than $2 a day. The 7.8-magnitude earthquake, which hit the country hard, happened almost exactly three years ago, on April 25th, 2015.

Namrata Pradhan, a nanny and volunteer for the Nepali-American nonprofit Adhikaar, which organized the TPS event, said she’s trying to project optimism.

“Earlier in the morning I cried, [but] I never want to show my tears. Because I want to be strong.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio supports the extension of TPS; a representative of City Council member Daniel Dromm spoke to those gathered. Twenty-two Democratic members of Congress have also called for an extension, including New York senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and New Jersey senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez. The program was designed to offer those who find themselves in the midst of a disaster a temporary way out.

In recent months, Homeland Security has canceled the TPS designations for Salvadorans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Sudanese, impacting over a quarter of a million immigrants. The department says that it makes its decisions based on a ground assessment of conditions, and whether it thinks countries have adequately recovered. Homeland Security has until May 6th to make a decision about whether to end protection for immigrants from Honduras who’ve been in the U.S. for about 20 years after fleeing Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

Trump officials told the Post that TPS was never intended to allow immigrants to stay in the U.S. long term.

The 75 or so Nepalis gathered in Woodside last night seemed shaken, but Adhikaar’s Executive Director Pabitra Benjamin told them to keep fighting for permanent residency.

“It may take time, it may not happen within the year, but we will get there.”

UPDATE 3:15 p.m.: The Department of Homeland Security has officially announced the end of TPS for Nepalis. The agency says conditions in Nepal have since improved.

Amanda Baran, a consultant to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center who previously worked at the Department of Homeland Security, slammed the decision, saying, "To expect a country to recover in such a short amount of time for Nepal it was 3 years, after such a devastating earthquake, is unrealistic."