The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced late Monday the end of Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, for Nicaragua and an automatic extension for another six months for Honduras, pending further review.
As of January 5, 2018, the 2,550 Nicaraguans in the U.S. with TPS will have 12 months to leave the country. This time frame allows "for an orderly transition before the designation terminates on January 5, 2019," according to statement from Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke.
DHS reported that the conditions that motivated TPS for Nicaragua in 1999 have improved enough to cancel the program.
If the cancellation is applied to Honduras in January, some 60,000 immigrants will be subject to deportation.
On January 5, 1999, then President Bill Clinton granted TPS to people who could not return to Honduras and Nicaragua due to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Mitch, one of the most deadly storms in history.
Under the immigration status, which is granted due to conflict, natural disaster or other extraordinary conditions, those with TPS can temporarily live and work legally in the United States and be protected from deportation.
Duke concluded that additional time is necessary to assess the situation in Honduras, and whether TPS should be canceled for that country.
El Salvador was given TPS designation in 2001 after a series of earthquakes, and 195,000 of its citizens benefit from TPS, according to USCIS. El Salvador’s TPS designation expires March 9; a decision for that country must come 60 days in advance, by January.
The alarm bells first rang on the TPS program May 24, when John Kelly, then secretary of Homeland Security, announced that 46,000 Haitians should prepare to return home when their TPS status expired next January. The designation was first given to that country in 2010, when a devastating earthquake killed 250,000 people.
For Francisco Portillo, the director of the Organizacion Hondureña Francisco Morazan in Miami, the new extension for Hondurans "is enough time to ask the House of Representatives and the Senate to pass a path toward legalization" for TPS beneficiaries.
We "appreciate the time allowed to prepare, but we believe that the government and Congress should have given us the opportunity for permanent legal status a long time ago," he said.