Thousands of Nicaraguans in the US Just Got Bad News

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 has ended Temporary Protected Status for Nicaragua, meaning that the 2,500 Nicaraguans living in the US under that special status have 14 months to leave the country. Last week Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent a letter to the department, possibly signaling a decision to remove the immigrants' protected status, telling them that conditions in Central America and Haiti no longer required them to be exempted from deportation.

The status had been granted to some Nicaraguans who had fled their homeland after the devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. "People have been here for 25 years", Shannon said, "and for 25 years they have been working with a legal temporary visa".

On Monday, DHS determined that Nicaraguan TPS holders can now return home and said that the Nicaraguan government will adequately handle their return.

This legislation would protect Nicaraguans and TPS holders from certain countries, including El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras and allow them to pursue a pathway to citizenship. In May, though, DHS signaled it would rescind Haiti's TPS. Every 6 to 18 months, immigration officials determine whether TPS is extended for each country. Already, 50,000 Haitian TPS recipients, who expect administrative decisions by Thanksgiving, are preparing for the worst.

For Honduras, Duke concluded that the DHS needed more time and information to make a determination, so the current TPS designation was extended for six months to July 5, 2018. She said that there is a lot uncertainty, especially for those with little options to adjust their status and get permanent residency. Roughly 250,000 USA citizens are the offspring of TPS beneficiaries, so the announcement would likely force many families to make the hard decision of having to take their children with them. "Your typical TPS recipient will not fall into those priorities". Nicaraguan immigrants, who have lived in the United States for almost two decades, will have 12 months to leave their homes.

Norma Portos is an immigration lawyer who has worked with Salvadoran TPS holders living in NY.


"When this administration came into office they came wanting to address the issue of the undocumented immigrants".

"I have never been so uneasy as I am now", Flores told Al Jazeera. Only Congress can provide a permanent solution for individuals enrolled in TPS.

Belinda Osorio, a Honduran-American who lives and works in Florida and has been in the USA for decades through TPS, told reporters at a conference call on Tuesday that she would not put her 14-year-old son in danger by going back to Honduras, regardless of the administration's eventual decision.

"Every 16 hours there is a woman killed in Honduras", said Oscar Chacón from the Alianza Américas, stating the country remains one of the most unsafe places in the world.

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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