U.S. sets end for temporary residency program for Nicaraguans

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

Local advocate Francisco Portillo, president of the Honduran group Francisco Morazán, said immigration organizations will keep fighting to win legalization for Honduran TPS holders.

Democratic legislators criticized the decision of the U.S. government to cancel the Temporary Protection Status (TPS) on 5 January for some 5,530 Nicaraguans living in this country. Otherwise, they will become undocumented.

Immigrants from both countries were given the special status in 1999 after Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America.

The DHS revokes temporary immigration benefits to over 5,000 Nicaraguan nationals as it decides what to do with another 300,000 migrants living in the U.S.

Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, (R-Fl), is one of several Florida Republicans who had called for an extension of TPS; he criticized the decision in a statement. She said that there is a lot uncertainty, especially for those with little options to adjust their status and get permanent residency.

A decision on El Salvador's status, which was given TPS after its 2001 quake, is due on 8 January 2018. 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.

"We have had to renew our work permits constantly but it is different under this administration", she said.

As it stands, TPS does not lead to a green card in the first place, but individuals who were covered under the program and meet the normal qualifications can apply to stay and work here permanently.

TPS was established by Congress through the Immigration Act of 1990. Haitians affected by the decision number 46,000.

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. "These are people who are working, who are paying their taxes, and we hope that when the time comes when they follow this process in the USA, that we will have the opportunity to have a renewal of the Temporary Protection Status or some way to have our countrymen continue to live in this country".

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".

The DHS has given the Nicaraguan migrants 14 months to leave the USA or change their immigration status.

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. As a mother of a 17-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter, she said she would be forced to leave and take her two children with her.

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