Frontera Fund News

Immigrants Fear the End of TPS. Nicaraguans Are Taken Out of the Program

Written by Carmen Cornejo

The Trump administration, with the villainous vein that characterizes it, has decided to eliminate the program which offered protection to thousands of Nicaraguans in January 2019 while other recipients of the TPS program from other countries fear the same fate.

The TPS (Temporary Protection Status) is a program where the Department of Homeland Security can designate individuals from another country which suffer the effects of natural disasters, wars or other temporal situations for protection when their government is too weak and unable to handle the return of their nationals.

This protection includes, first and foremost that the individuals cannot be detained and removed from the USA. They can obtain an Employment Authorization Document and may be granted travel authorization.

TPS does not provide a permanent legal status or a path to citizenship, or other migration benefits. The protections granted by TPS are similar to the DACA program.

The decision of ending the TPS in January 2019 affects thousands of Nicaraguan living in the US.  The TPS for Nicaraguans was introduced in 1999 after Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America.

Individuals benefited from the program have renewed under both Republican and Democrat administrations. Presidents Bush and Obama have said that Central American countries cannot cope with thousands of immigrants coming back to their affected countries.

As today, individuals of 10 countries receive TPS: Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Haiti, Nepal, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Syria and Yemen and more than 435,000 persons are benefited by the program.

Nicaragua’s economy is primarily agricultural. It is the least developed country in Central America and the second poorest in the Americas by nominal GDP.

Thousands of Nicaraguans have been living in the US for almost 20 years thanks to the TPS.

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) Elaine Duke said on Monday that the “substantial but temporary conditions caused in Nicaragua by Hurricane Mitch no longer exist” and that its TPS designation would, therefore, have to be terminated. While it was due to expire in January 2018, DHS will extend the permit to 2019  “to allow for an orderly transition”. She also determined that additional information is necessary regarding the TPS designation for Honduras, and “has made no determination regarding Honduras at this time”.

Nicaraguans will now have until 5 January 2019 to “legalize their status by other ways or leave”, according to the Elaine Duke.

According to USCIS numbers, 2,550 Nicaraguans participate in the program and are expected to apply for the last time.

Meanwhile, other beneficiaries of the TPS program (especially Hondurans) fear their benefit will be eliminated among them 195,000 Salvadoreans and 46,000 Haitians who are waiting for a decision on whether their TPS will be renewed.