Legislators Criticize the US Decision on Nicaraguan Immigrants

Saul Bowman
November 8, 2017

The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday that it is ending the Temporary Protected Status immigration program for Nicaraguans, but extending it for six months for Hondurans pending further review.

The decision to end TPS for Nicaraguans is part of President Donald Trump's broader efforts to tighten restrictions on immigration.Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from across Central America live and work in the United States, but some are protected from the threat of deportation under the TPS program.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) eliminated the provision for Nicaraguans after determining they no longer needed relief from "substantial but temporary conditions" caused by the hurricane that ravaged the Central American country almost 20 year ago. "People have been here for 25 years", Shannon said, "and for 25 years they have been working with a legal temporary visa". In data shared with ThinkProgress, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency puts those numbers closer to 86,163 recipients for Honduras and 5,349 recipients for Nicaragua as of the end of calendar year 2016.

"Haiti is a textbook case for an 18-month extension due to Hurricane Matthew, the cholera epidemic, and incomplete natural disaster recovery", said Steve Forester, immigration policy coordinator with the Boston-based Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti.

Trump's administration was faced with a Monday deadline to announce its decision on Nicaragua and Honduras.

DHS has called on Congress to enact a permanent solution to resolve the seemingly imminent elimination of TPS in the memo and give options to the thousands of immigrations that are losing or may eventually lose these protections.

But the bigger impact will come when the administration makes a final decision on Salvadorans and Haitians' status.


Haitians and Salvadorans are also waiting to hear what the U.S. is going to do with their TPS designation. Instead, they're getting a six-month extension, with a decision at a later date. "And in fact by not renewing the Temporary Protected Status. they have actually made matters worse", Rodriguez said.

"Among the families with TPS work permits hearing of their status yesterday and in the coming weeks and months are an estimated 273,000 US citizen children". "This is yet another attempt by the Trump administration to dehumanize immigrants and communities of color, particularly when they are in their greatest need".

"I have never been so uneasy as I am now", Flores told Al Jazeera.

Other presidential administrations have both ended and renewed TPS without much controversy, as Daily Kos' Gabe Ortiz pointed out.

"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.

Salvadorans and Haitians' fates are in limbo as the Department of Homeland Security decides what to do with those residents whose status expires in early January.

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