As expected, Sec. Kirstjen M. Nielsen of the Department of Homeland Security announced this month that the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) granted to Honduran immigrants would finally end by January 5, 2020.
After Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America in 1998, killing an estimated 10,000 people in Honduras alone, the United States government decided to open its doors to Honduran refugees, granting more than 57,000 Hondurans a designation known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
Congress created the Temporary Protected Status designation in 1990 into an effort to aid people from countries afflicted by civil turmoil or severe destruction caused by natural disasters like Hurricane Mitch. In turn, the TPS designation has protected Honduran nationals, as well as Nicaraguans, in the country from deportation for decades.
But according to a press release posted on the Department of Homeland Security’s website, Sec. Nielsen notes that conditions in Honduras have improved substantially in recent years, such that Honduran refugees in the United States could now safely return home.
“Based on careful consideration of available information, including recommendations received as part of an inter-agency consultation process, the Secretary determined that the disruption of living conditions in Honduras from Hurricane Mitch that served as the basis for its TPS designation has decreased to a degree that it should no longer be regarded as substantial,” the statement reads.
As such, the current temporary protected status of the refugees in question must end.
The Honduran refugees are not the first group to have their TPS revoked. Nielsen earlier announced her decision to end the TPS designation for over 50,000 Haitians, 9,000 Nepalis, and 200,000 Salvadorans.
Nicaraguan and Sudanese nationals have also lost their protected status.
All groups were provided a grace period of over a year to either prepare for their departure or seek other immigration statuses to remain in the country legally.
Immigrant rights advocates criticized Nielsen’s decisions, calling them politically motivated and detached from reality. They argue that the conditions these Honduran refugees stand to face upon their return home are still unsafe.
Critics have also pointed out that Honduras regularly finds itself listed among the world’s most dangerous countries, adding that the Honduran government itself is still far from ready for the repatriation of TPS beneficiaries.
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez concedes that the Trump administration’s decision to end the protected status for Hondurans is a sovereign issue but adds that the Honduran government deeply laments it. Hugo Noe, former Honduran ambassador to the United States, expects that most Hondurans who were under the TPS will remain in the US illegally.
If you, or a loved one, are under Temporary Protected Status and would like to know how these designation changes might affect you, talk to the immigration law experts of the Lyttle Law Firm and discuss your legal options. Call our offices today at (512) 215.5225 to schedule a consultation with Austin immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.