The Department of Homeland Security announced on Monday that it would revoke the Temporary Protected Status of some 5,200 Nicaraguans living in the U.S. after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recommended booting Nicaragua from the program last week. TPS allows citizens from disaster-stricken countries to live and work in the U.S. until their home countries recover.
In an announcement, acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke said Nicaraguans living in the U.S. had 12 months to “seek alternative lawful immigration status” or make arrangements for their departure. When Hurricane Mitch struck Nicaragua and Honduras in 1998, both countries were granted TPS. But the protected status of nearly 57,000 Hondurans, many of whom have also lived in the U.S. for decades, was also threatened by Duke’s announcement.
Citing a need for more time to determine if Hondurans should remain protected, Duke extended the deadline for DHS to decide whether the Central American country will retain its protected status. “However, given the information currently available to the Acting Secretary, it is possible that the TPS designation for Honduras will be terminated at the end of of the six-month automatic extension with appropriate delay,” the statement read.
In August, Republican and Democratic Representatives sent a letter to Duke urging her to maintain the TPS of El Salvador and Honduras. “Failing to renew TPS would needlessly tear apart families and communities across the country,” the letter read. TPS holders from Honduras and El Salvador have become valued and important members of our communities. They have started families, opened businesses, and contributed to this country in countless ways.”
Duke has until Nov. 23 to decide whether some 195,000 El Salvadorians and 58,000 Haitians will retain their protected status. In May, though, DHS signaled it would rescind Haiti’s TPS. “The Department of Homeland Security urges Haitian TPS recipients who do not have another immigration status to use the time before Jan. 22, 2018 to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States,” the memo read.
Previous administrations have renewed the TPS for Honduras at least ten times, according to Vox. But the very nature of TPS is antithetical to the Trump administration’s immigration policy. John Kelly, then DHS Secretary, emphasized the program’s “temporary” nature in May despite how long thousands of TPS holders have lived in the U.S. Cancelling TPS benefits, however, directly aligns with the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant crusade.