It’s been two months since the Justice Department announced plans to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protected nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants from deportation. Now, the Trump administration is zeroing on a specific group of immigrants: Nicaraguans.
The Department of Homeland Security announced in a statement that it would stop protecting the immigration status of roughly 5,300 Nicaraguans, who were safeguarded from deportation after Hurricane Mitch ravaged Central America and killed nearly 11,000 people in 1998.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) allows people from certain countries experiencing critical circumstances like natural disasters or war to temporarily stay in the United States.
The termination of TPS won’t go into effect until January 5, 2019. “This will provide time for individuals with TPS to seek an alternative lawful immigration status in the United States, if eligible, or, if necessary, arrange for their departure,” said the DHS. “It will also provide time for Nicaragua to prepare for the return and reintegration of their citizens.”
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham strongly condemned the government’s resolution: “The Trump administration’s irresponsible decision to end TPS for Nicaraguans will tear apart families and upend the lives of these hard-working individuals,” she said in a statement. “These immigrants have lived in the United States for nearly 20 years and have raised U.S. citizen children, contributed to our economy and enriched our communities. Deporting families who are contributing to the economic and social fabric of our nation isn’t leadership; it’s a reckless and callous abuse of power.”
DHS also announced that Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke “has made no determination regarding Honduras at this time.” Hondurans currently residing in the U.S. under TPS — 57,000 — were granted a six-month extension of protection, but they anxiously await their fates.