Legislators Criticize the US Decision on Nicaraguan Immigrants

Administration officials have been signaling their desire to end the protections arguing that a program that was supposed to provide a temporary respite after disaster and civil wars has instead become a permanent benefit. (Credit Carolyn Cole  Los Angel

The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday it would revoke the Temporary Protected Status of some 5,200 Nicaraguans living in the US after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recommended booting Nicaragua from the program last week.

Duke postponed a final decision in the case of Honduras, automatically extending the current temporary permits for Hondurans in the US for six months, until July 5.

Hurricane Mitch and the flooding it brought to Central America killed more than 19,000 people in 1998.

"Haiti is a textbook case for an 18-month extension due to Hurricane Matthew, the cholera epidemic, and incomplete quake recovery", said Steve Forester, immigration policy coordinator with the Boston-based Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti.

The irresponsible decision to end the TPS for Nicaraguans will tear families apart and disrupt the lives of these working individuals, the president of the Congress Hispanic Legislative Group, Michelle Lujan said on the measure announced yesterday. Decisions on whether those TPS recipients will be extended are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. Instead, they're getting a six-month extension, with a decision at a later date.

The program was enacted by Congress in 1990 to protect immigrants fleeing war or natural disasters.

Immigration advocates held a press conference in Miami on Monday to make a last-minute plea to the Trump administration to not terminate the status for Haitians and Central Americans.

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McGrorty, executive director of Catholic Legal Services in the Archdiocese of Miami, said US law is meant to be implemented "with a certain degree of kindness and compassion", and that sending people to countries that are ill-prepared to welcome them would do far more harm than good.

The other countries with TPS designations are El Salvador, Haiti, Nepal, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. "They have children here, and mortgages here", she said.

They called for TPS to be extended at 18-month intervals, as the current law requires, until Congress hammers out a legal fix. Nicaraguan immigrants, who have lived in the United States for almost two decades, will have 12 months to leave their homes. The Trump administration will not consider them a priority for deportation, but they will be eligible for it, a DHS official told reporters Monday night.

The Trump administration is now calling on Congress to legislate a "permanent solution" and "provide a certain future" for these individuals.

Although TPS is renewed on a regular basis, the administration's approach to restrict protections from deportations have made TPS-holders nervous said Portos.

Guisell Martinez Flores, a TPS holder from Honduras who has worked as a janitor in Los Angeles, California for more than 18 years, said the announcement does not constitute good news.

Salvadorans and Haitians' fates are in limbo as the Department of Homeland Security decides what to do with those residents whose status expires in early January.

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