Trump Eliminates TPS Protections for Nicaraguan Migrants

Trump Eliminates TPS Protections for Nicaraguan Migrants

Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke on Monday terminated the so-called temporary protected status (TPS) designation for about 2,500 Nicaraguan nationals, giving them 14 months to prepare to leave the USA or adjust their immigration status if they are eligible.

Created by Congress in 1990, TPS defers deportation for certain aliens already in the USA - many of them illegally - and allows them to apply for work permits.

"Together with his decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and to end TPS status for Sudanese immigrants, Trump is announcing the forced removal of 900,000 people from their homes".

Immigrants from both countries were given the special status in 1999 after Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America.

If Department of Homeland Security secretary nominee Kirstjen Nielsen is confirmed as expected on Wednesday, one of her first major decisions will be what to do about 300,000 foreign nationals living in the US with a form of temporary immigration status. But administration officials did not include those countries in their announcement. President Trump has nominated Kirstjen Nielsen, the deputy White House chief of staff, to be the next DHS secretary, and she will face Senate confirmation hearings Wednesday.

Nicaraguans will now have until 5 January 2019 to legalise their status or leave, she said.

Hondurans and Nicaraguans were given the protected status in response to Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

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More than 5,000 Nicaraguans and about 85,000 Hondurans are beneficiaries of that program. Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke confirmed that the decision on Honduras is postponed in order to discuss circumstances particular to that country.

"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.

BuzzFeed News previously reported that years after the U.S. designated El Salvador and Honduras for TPS, only residual effects of the natural disasters exist, but they have been compounded by unemployment and gang violence. Adrian Reyna of the youth-led immigration group United We Dream called the decision "part of Trump's racist drive to force millions of people of color underground, into jails and out of the country".

Hegly Barahona, 50, who cleans homes and buses restaurant tables in the Washington suburbs, arrived from Honduras in 1996, and if sent back there she said she would have no way to financially support her son.

"Although they were born here, we want to keep our children with us", she said. "There's no work there". "That's unfair", she said of Homeland Security officials.

DHS ended TPS for several African nations this year, including Sudan and Sierra Leone, but Central Americans and Haitians make up the vast majority of TPS recipients, and they are the longest tenured.

"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.

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