USA to end protected immigration status for Nicaraguans

by Abel Hampton November 8, 2017, 0:21
USA to end protected immigration status for Nicaraguans

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. As a result, TPS for that country will be extended for six months from its current expiry date of January 5 next year, to July 5, 2018.

The decision will affect thousands of Nicaraguan living in the USA, who will have to seek "an alternative lawful immigration status" or leave the US.

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. Their protection was set to expire January 5.

But the bigger impact will come when the administration makes a final decision on Salvadorans and Haitians' status. Immigration advocates in Miami hold a press conference on Monday in reaction to the possible termination of Temporary Protected Status for more than 300,000 Haitians and Central Americans.

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 US for about 20 years and are unlikely to leave, regardless of the DHS decision. If they don't comply, they will be considered undocumented migrants and could face deportation.

Last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the conditions in Central America and Haiti no longer justify the need for protections under TPS in a letter to DHS.

During the background call with reporters, senior administration officials emphasized that the USCIS agency - the organization overseeing TPS designation - would not "proactively share information with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding the expiration of TPS". El Salvador became the first country to receive TPS designation in 1990 in the aftermath of the country's civil war.

In May, TPS for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone expired.

"Every 16 hours there is a woman killed in Honduras", said Oscar Chacón from the Alianza Américas, stating the country remains one of the most risky places in the world. "They are the fabric of our communities, and our economies and our industries", said Maria Rodriguez of the Florida Immigrant Coalition.

The program has been renewed several times for all benefiting countries until U.S. President Donald Trump began reviewing the policy. Earlier this year, the Trump administration ended TPS for Sudanese recipients, who were told to arrange their departure or find another way to legally stay in the United States once their status expires in November 2018.

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