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Judge says FEMA can end housing aid for Puerto Rican evacuees

Puerto Rican activists and others participate in a protest outside of New York City's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) office to call on Congress and FEMA to deliver the aid and resources thousands of Puerto Ricans desperately need to recover on February 20, 2018 in New York City.
Puerto Rican activists and others participate in a protest outside of New York City's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) office to call on Congress and FEMA to deliver the aid and resources thousands of Puerto Ricans desperately need to recover on February 20, 2018 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

BOSTON – A judge says the federal government can end a temporary housing vouching program for Puerto Rican hurricane evacuees.

Judge Timothy Hillman on Thursday denied an effort to force the government to continue providing aid that has allowed evacuees to live in hotels in the U.S.

Hillman also ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to keep the program in place through Sept. 13 to give the evacuees time to make other plans.

Hillman expressed remorse at his decision, but said his hands were tied by the law. He said he cannot order the government "to do that which in a humanitarian and caring world should be done."

The evacuees have been living in hotels on the mainland since they fled the island after Hurricane Maria last September. The aid was supposed to expire June 30.