Trump administration ends immigration program protecting Central Americans from deportation

A supporter amongst a coalition of community leaders and immigrant advocates demonstrate outside US immigration offices, calling on federal authorities to designate Ecuador for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for its nationals in the aftermath of last April's 7.8 magnitude natural disaster, Wednesday June 1, 2016, in NY.

The Trump administration will end a temporary program that allows some Nicaraguans to live and work in the United States, while leaving the door open to canceling the same program for more than 200,000 Haitians and Salvadorans in the coming weeks.

The Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Nicaragua was introduced in 1999 after Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America. DHS can renew the program for up to 18 months at a time.

The Washington Post reported Friday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson paved the way for TPS to be withdrawn for Central Americans and Haitians by sending a letter to DHS stating that conditions in those countries had improved to the point that people no longer needed protection.

Meanwhile Honduran immigrants, whose TPS was also due to expire in January 2018, have been left in limbo as a decision on their status was delayed. 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.

In September, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, the president of El Salvador spoke to the United Nations General Assembly and asked that the U.S. extend TPS to the 195,000 Salvadorans already living in the country. For more information, visit http://www.healthyamericas.org or call the Alliance's Su Familia National Hispanic Family Health Helpline at 1-866-783-2645.

Nicaraguans will now have until 5 January 2019 to legalise their status or leave, she said. Haitians got TPS after the January 2010 quake that killed hundreds of thousands of people. Already, 50,000 Haitian TPS recipients, who expect administrative decisions by Thanksgiving, are preparing for the worst. "That is up to Congress, but the administration would support Congress' efforts to find such a solution". "They are the fabric of our communities, and our economies and our industries", said Maria Rodriguez of the Florida Immigrant Coalition.

Many advocates and lawmakers criticized the decision ahead of an official White House announcement.

Critics say "temporary" should mean "temporary".

Former U.S. Ambassador to Honduras James (Jim) D. Nealon also urged the Trump administration to extend TPS, saying, "it makes no sense to send [citizens of Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador] back to their country of origin". But while the country continues to suffer from extreme poverty, Kelly told members of Congress this summer that conditions for which TPS was granted have largely been resolved.

Other presidential administrations have both ended and renewed TPS without much controversy, as Daily Kos' Gabe Ortiz pointed out.


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