US Ends Temporary Residency Permit Program for Nicaragua

Posted November 08, 2017

Democratic legislators criticized the decision of the United States government to cancel the Temporary Protection Status (TPS) on 5 January for some 5,530 Nicaraguans living in this country.

Cecilia Menjívar, a professor of sociology at Kansas University who studies TPS, said that most Central American immigrants protected by the program have been in the US for about 20 years and are unlikely to leave, regardless of the DHS decision.

Immigrants from both countries were given the special status in 1999 after Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America. "They are the fabric of our communities, and our economies and our industries", said Maria Rodriguez of the Florida Immigrant Coalition. In data shared with ThinkProgress, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency puts those numbers closer to 86,163 recipients for Honduras and 5,349 recipients for Nicaragua as of the end of calendar year 2016. El Salvador became the first country to receive TPS designation in 1990 in the aftermath of the country's civil war.

The decision to end TPS for Nicaraguans will affect approximately 2,500 people. Nicaraguans' and Hondurans' work authorization cards were set to expire on January 5, 2018. In May, though, DHS signaled it would rescind Haiti's TPS.

Immigration officials regularly decide whether to renew the programme every six to 18 months for each country.

Supporters of TPS slammed the administration's decisions.

The advocates also pointed to decisions due in several weeks from homeland security on TPS for people from El Salvador and Haiti, calling on Duke to extend protections without delay. She said that there is a lot uncertainty, especially for those with little options to adjust their status and get permanent residency.

Tillerson's recommendations, which were not made public according to the Washington Post, could adversely impact not just TPS recipients, but their family members.

In March, DHS extended TPS for Haiti by six months, although many interpreted this move as a sign that they opposed the program and would be terminating it this fall.

There are bipartisan legislative options now before Congress to protect TPS families. Under advanced parole, TPS holders that entered the country unlawfully but married US citizens can go overseas and return to the country and be inspected by immigration officials and gain the option to adjust their status.

As ThinkProgress previously reported, some Haitian parents are weighing the costs of leaving their children here in the United States if they have to return.

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.

BuzzFeed News previously reported that years after the U.S. designated El Salvador and Honduras for TPS, only residual effects of the natural disasters exist, but they have been compounded by unemployment and gang violence. 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. But the fate of TPS is more tenuous under President Donald Trump whose executive orders on immigration aim to limit legal immigration and deport undocumented immigrants.