Image: NBC News
Monday night, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a new attack on the immigrant community. Temporary Protected Status (TPS) will not be extended for Nicaraguans and Hondurans will only get a six-month extension; this will affect 57,000 Hondurans and 2,500 Nicaraguans.
Last week, the government launched another assault against immigrant rights. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson advised the Department of Homeland Security that Central Americans and Haiti will no longer need protection under the TPS program. Trump also called for an end to the Diversity Visa Lottery Program. The latter program allows more than 50,000 people to immigrate to the U.S. each year.
TPS protects those immigrants who came to the United States from countries that are suffering or recovering from “ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, an epidemic or other extraordinary and temporary conditions,” ensuring they will not be deported.
In the case of Honduras and Nicaragua, protection was given for the first time after the damage caused to the region by Hurricane Mitch in January, 1999. Since then, it has been extended for different reasons, allowing 57,000 Hondurans and 2,500 Nicaraguans to live and work in the U.S. Under this decision, Nicaraguans will be subject to massive deportations unless they find another form of legal status, although they will be allowed to remain in the U.S. until July 5, 2019. Hondurans’ temporary status will be valid until July 5, 2018 at which point the Trump Administration will have to issue another decision. This six month extension is far shorter than the 18-month extensions Hondurans had been receiving in recent years. The DHS statement also noted “it is possible that the TPS designation for Honduras will be terminated at the end of the six-month automatic extension with an appropriate delay.”
More immigrants will have to face this situation in the coming months. The protection for Salvadorans ends on March 9th and protection for Haitians on January 22nd. The confirmation of each prolongation must be announced two months prior so that it does not automatically lose validity.
The TPS status of 200,000 immigrants from El Salvador dates back to 1990, which means that they having been building their lives in the U.S. for the past three decades. In the case of Haiti, TPS was granted in 2010 after the terrible earthquake suffered by that nation; 50,000 Haitians are counting on this protection.
Trump has been promoting xenophobia and blaming immigrants for a wide variety of problems. He has already banned entrance to Muslims from several countries, repeatedly says that he will extend the existing wall along the Mexican border, and decided to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that grants residence to 8 million young undocumented immigrants.
The status of hundreds of thousands of immigrants, in vulnerable situations and living under the constant fear of deportation, is a result of the fact that DACA and TPS do not ensure citizenship and the threat of attacks from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). We must end this precarious condition for immigrants, demand full citizenship for all, and express solidarity across the country against deportations and violence.