Friday, 17 November, 2017

DHS ends protected immigration status for Nicaraguans, extends for Hondurans

Administration officials have been signaling their desire to end the protections arguing that a program that was supposed to provide a temporary respite after disaster and civil wars has instead become a permanent benefit. (Credit Carolyn Cole  Los Angel A plea against deportation
Wilma Wheeler | 08 November, 2017, 00:35

The Department of Homeland Security has ended Temporary Protected Status for Nicaragua, meaning that the 2,500 Nicaraguans living in the USA under that special status have 14 months to leave the country. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last week that the conditions in Central America and Haiti no longer justify the need for protections under TPS.

When Hurricane Mitch struck Nicaragua and Honduras in 1998, both countries were granted TPS. "They are the fabric of our communities, and our economies and our industries", said Maria Rodriguez of the Florida Immigrant Coalition.

In addition, the DHS said the Nicaraguan government did not request that TPS be extended for its citizens in the United States.

For Martínez, the elimination of TPS would mean having to forcefully return to El Salvador.

The Trump administration's plans to create more stringent immigration policies may determine whether the provision is renewed for other countries like El Salvador and Honduras. Haitians status is set to expire in January 2018, affecting about 50,000 people, a lot of them in Florida, while Sanvadorans' status expires in March 2018, affecting almost 200,000 people.

The TPS designation is for those who have come to the US from certain countries because of a natural disaster, continuing armed conflict, criminal violence or other extraordinary conditions.

Immigration officials regularly decide whether to renew the programme every six to 18 months for each country. Haitians affected by the decision number 46,000.

Nicaragua and Honduras were originally designated January 5, 1999, because of destruction wrought by Hurricane Mitch.

After the termination of the TPS designation, individuals will revert back to whatever legal status they had before they received TPS, senior administration officials said on a background call Monday night. "My hope is they change the legislation to make this a permanent thing for all the TPS recipients".

There is a push by some close to Trump to get at least another six-month extension for Haitians.

Nicaragua made no such call to the USA government, according to the DHS statement.

The program was enacted by Congress in 1990 to protect immigrants fleeing war or natural disasters.

As ThinkProgress previously reported, some Haitian parents are weighing the costs of leaving their children here in the United States if they have to return.

"While it is clear that TPS protection was meant to provide refuge for people of color in Honduras, Nicaragua and Haiti, their homelands have yet to reach a place of safety or economic prosperity which would make their return feasible", Eddie Carmona, director of PICO National Network's LA RED immigrant justice campaign, said in a statement. If they don't comply, they will be considered undocumented migrants and could face deportation.

Congressional members, including Republican lawmakers, also called on the Trump administration to continue TPS. Nearly 200,000 Salvadorans can lose TPS status as compared to the 30,000 Salvadorans who have DACA, according to figures on the Department of Homeland Security's website.

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