Thousands of Nicaraguans in the US Just Got Bad News

Laura Christensen
November 8, 2017

Royce Murray, policy director at the American Immigration Council, said that Duke's decision indicates that the administration is "struggling with the seriousness of the conditions and complicated situation" in Central America's so-called Northern Triangle, which includes Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

On Monday, the White House announced an estimated 2,500 Nicaraguans will not see their TPS designation renewed; they have 14 months-until January 5, 2019-to get out or change their residency status to one that permits them to stay. Otherwise, they will become undocumented.

Immigrants from Honduras and Nicaragua were granted temporary protected status in 1999 as a result of Hurricane Mitch. Every 6 to 18 months, immigration officials determine whether TPS is extended for each country.

The press statement made clear that DHS terminated the TPS designation for Nicaragua because conditions had sufficiently recovered after Hurricane Mitch for the country to receive people who fled.

Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, (R-Fl), is one of several Florida Republicans who had called for an extension of TPS; he criticized the decision in a statement. 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. "They are hardworking individuals who have substantial roots in this country and have made contributions to our society and local economies".

The White House also delayed a decision on TPS for Honduran immigrants, in a move that could seriously impact the lives of tens of thousands of people.

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As it stands, TPS does not lead to a green card in the first place, but individuals who were covered under the program and meet the normal qualifications can apply to stay and work here permanently.

There are bipartisan legislative options now before Congress to protect TPS families.

Officials did not announce a decision for TPS holders from El Salvador or Haiti. Roughly 250,000 USA citizens are the offspring of TPS beneficiaries, so the announcement would likely force many families to make the hard decision of having to take their children with them.

"We are looking at the fact that temporary protected status means temporary, and it has not been temporary for many years", DHS spokesman David Lapan said earlier this month. "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".

Today was the deadline for the administration to decide the fate of those Nicaraguans and some 57,000 Hondurans - but that second group will have to wait to see their future decided.

Cecilia Menjívar, a professor of sociology at Kansas University who studies TPS, said that most Central American immigrants protected by the program have been in the USA for about 20 years and are unlikely to leave, regardless of the DHS decision. "They have children here, and mortgages here", she said.

Other reports by My Hot News

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