United States ends 'protected' status for Nicaraguans

Casey Dawson
November 8, 2017

Last night, Trump's Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Elaine Duke announced that the agency will terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Nicaragua on January 5, 2019.

Immigrants from Honduras and Nicaragua were granted temporary protected status in 1999 as a result of Hurricane Mitch. While it was due to expire in January 2018, she said it would be delayed by one year "to allow for an orderly transition". Already, 50,000 Haitian TPS recipients, who expect administrative decisions by Thanksgiving, are preparing for the worst. Haitians got TPS after the January 2010 natural disaster that killed hundreds of thousands of people. "These are people who are working, who are paying their taxes, and we hope that when the time comes when they follow this process in the USA, that we will have the opportunity to have a renewal of the Temporary Protection Status or some way to have our countrymen continue to live in this country". The renewals are a source of some controversy in the U.S. Some critics feel the benefits have basically become permanent, because some nationals from Honduras and Nicaragua have held the status for as long as 20 years.

A temporary residency permit program has aided 5,000 citizens from Nicaragua who have lived in the United States for nearly two decades. That means many people would become undocumented if they can not quickly change their statuses and remain in the country.

The Washington Post reported Friday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson paved the way for TPS to be withdrawn for Central Americans and Haitians by sending a letter to DHS stating that conditions in those countries had improved to the point that people no longer needed protection.

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TPS is a form of temporary legal residency established in the Immigration Act of 1990 that provides worker visas to more than 300,00 immigrants from 10 countries experiencing ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster or other circumstances that make it potentially risky for them to return to home.

These groups are also in the country under the TPS program. There are bipartisan legislative options now before Congress to protect TPS families.

In May, TPS for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone expired. For more information, visit http://www.healthyamericas.org or call the Alliance's Su Familia National Hispanic Family Health Helpline at 1-866-783-2645.

"These are people who have had to go to the Department of Homeland security every 18 months, and have shown their papers, their information, their records, have paid to be renewed". As a mother of a 17-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter, she said she would be forced to leave and take her two children with her. "This is yet another attempt by the Trump administration to dehumanize immigrants and communities of color, particularly when they are in their greatest need".

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