WASHINGTON - 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.
The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday night that about 2,000
Nicaraguans who have Temporary Protected Status must leave or seek another
form of legal residency, though those affected will be able to stay until
Jan. 5, 2019.
The status had been granted to some Nicaraguans who had fled their homeland
after the devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
“Based on all available information, the country conditions in Nicaragua
now exceed Hurricane Mitch,” said a senior administration official.
The 1998 hurricane killed more than 2,000 people in Nicaragua and caused
over $1 billion in damage.
But the bigger impact will come when the administration makes a final decision
on the status of Salvadorans and Haitians. Haitians’ status is set
to expire in January 2018, affecting about 50,000 people, most of them
in Florida, while Salvadorans’ status expires in March 2018, affecting
nearly 200,000 people.
Homeland Security officials also announced that Honduras will get a six-month
TPS extension, until July 2018, after the program was set to expire in
January. Just under 60,000 Hondurans have received TPS.
Local advocate Francisco Portillo, president of the Honduran group Francisco
Morazán, said immigration organizations will keep fighting to win
legalization for Honduran TPS holders.
“We are sad by the news but feel fortunate that we got six months
to keep lobbying in Washington,” Portillo said. “Let’s
see if we can get Congress to legalize these people who have been in the
country for decades, are homeowners and business owners and whose kids
were born here.”
A bill proposed last week by Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo and co-sponsored
by other members of South Florida’s congressional delegation would
grant TPS recipients from Honduras, Haiti, El Salvador and Nicaragua a
path to permanent residency. Only Congress can provide a permanent solution
for individuals enrolled in TPS.
There is a push by some close to Trump to get at least another six-month
extension for Haitians. But it’s unclear if that will happen, given
the strong desire by some in the Department of Homeland Security and the
White House to terminate the program.
Immigration advocates held a press conference in Miami on Monday to make
a last-minute plea to the Trump administration to not terminate the status
for Haitians and Central Americans.
“These are people who have had to go to the Department of Homeland
security every 18 months, and have shown their papers, their information,
their records, have paid to be renewed. They have consistently complied
with the Department of Homeland Security. They are the fabric of our communities,
and our economies and our industries,” said Maria Rodriguez of the
Florida Immigrant Coalition.
There is talk at the Department of Homeland Security and Democratic and
Republican offices about potentially using the Diversity Visa Lottery
Program, which Trump wants to end, to help Haitians and other TPS members
to get permanent residency.
TPS for Haitians was expected to expire this summer, but the secretary
of Homeland Security at the time, John Kelly, decided in May to extend
the status an additional six months to allow Haitians more time to prepare
for the change.
“Haiti is a textbook case for an 18-month extension due to Hurricane
Matthew, the cholera epidemic, and incomplete earthquake recovery,”
said Steve Forester, immigration policy coordinator with the Boston-based
Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. “No honest, informed
observer could find otherwise. If the administration ends TPS for Haiti,
it will indicate an ideological agenda, intentionally ignoring the clear
facts on the ground and violating the national security interests of both
Homeland Security initially grants TPS for between six and 18 months, and
can renew the status indefinitely if conditions remain unsafe or the country
involved is unable to handle the return of its nationals. The renewals
are a source of some controversy in the U.S. Some critics feel the benefits
have basically become permanent, because some nationals from Honduras
and Nicaragua have held the status for as long as 20 years.
The United States granted TPS to Haitian nationals living in the U.S. following
the cataclysmic earthquake in 2010 that left more than 300,000 dead, 1.5
million homeless and an equal number injured. But while the country continues
to suffer from extreme poverty, Kelly told members of Congress this summer
that conditions for which TPS was granted have largely been resolved.
Proponents of TPS for people from Central America and Haiti argue that
ending the designation for those countries is counterproductive and could
also drive more illegal immigration.
“When this administration came into office they came wanting to address
the issue of the undocumented immigrants. And in fact by not renewing
the Temporary Protected Status.... they have actually made matters worse,”
Rodriguez said. “It is very important that these families not go
back into the shadows and be fed into the deportation machinery. That
hurts us all.”
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article183143101.html
REVILLA LAW FIRM, P.A.
Miami immigration law firm
Our Miami immigration lawyers are available to review and evaluate your
immigration case with a free in-office consultation in our Miami office.
We are dedicated to ensuring our clients fully understand any changes
in immigration policies and how they can affect their status in this country.
We will always take the time to analyze the facts surrounding your case
and provide the legal guidance you need to make informed decisions about
how to proceed with your immigration matter.
We handle all types of immigration cases and we are highly experienced,
compassionate, and committed to helping you achieve the best outcome.
Contact us today at (305) 858-2323 or toll free (877) 854-2323 to schedule
your free in-office consultation.
Telephone consultations are also available for a nominal fee.