In a statement issued Monday night, the Department of Homeland Security said that Nicaraguans with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) have until January 5, 2019 in order to return home or seek a permanent immigration status. Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke said additional information was needed before deciding whether to revoke or extend TPS for an estimated 57,000 Hondurans, which is now set to expire July 5, 2018. Immigrants from Honduras and Nicaragua were granted temporary protected status in 1999 as a result of Hurricane Mitch.
Immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) are allowed to live and work in the U.S. if it is determined that they are unable to safely return to their home country because of an environmental disaster, armed conflict, or other extraordinary conditions.
Hondurans and Nicaraguans were given the protected status in response to Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
The advocates also pointed to decisions due in several weeks from homeland security on TPS for people from El Salvador and Haiti, calling on Duke to extend protections without delay.
Administration officials said Duke was sensitive to the fact that the Hondurans and Nicaraguans have lived in the United States for two decades or more, and she urged Congress to enact a permanent solution for a program that was meant to be temporary. He plays lacrosse at Ohio Valley University in West Virginia, she said. Congress created the program in 1990 to prevent foreigners-primarily undocumented immigrants-who were already in the United States from being returned to countries suffering from natural disasters or ongoing armed conflict. "That's unfair", she said of Homeland Security officials.
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"The decision to end TPS status for Nicaragua is part of Trump's racist drive to force millions of people of color underground, into jails and out of the country".
"The Trump Administration's irresponsible decision to end TPS for Nicaraguans will tear apart families and upend the lives of these hard-working individuals", Democratic Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said in a statement. "Deporting families who are contributing to the economic and social fabric of our nation isn't leadership; it's a reckless and callous abuse of power". In May, then-DHS Secretary John F. Kelly renewed TPS for Haitians, but only for six months, far short of the 18-month extensions repeatedly granted by the Obama administration. "My hope is they change the legislation to make this a permanent thing for all the TPS recipients". "But it would be a huge injustice to take them back to our countries".
Temporary Protected Status allows people from 10 countries to live and work in the United States.
In May, John Kelly, who was DHS secretary before becoming the White House chief of staff, extended protections for Hattians, who had been affected by the 2010 quake, for six months.