By Delaney Gagnon
The Trump administration has announced that the U.S. will be ending the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) that now shields over 5,000 Nicaraguans in America from deportation. The administration set a January 2019 deadline for the Nicaraguan immigrants currently in the U.S. to either obtain citizenship or leave the country.
“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 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a public statement.
TPS was created in the 1990s to protect immigrants coming to America to escape war or natural disasters in their home countries. After Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America in 1999, the U.S. granted TPS protection to immigrants from Nicaragua and Honduras.
The Trump administration is also expected to make a decision on the fate of Honduran immigrants, but has delayed the announcement for another six months.
According to a report by Reuters, the acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary for the Trump administration, Elaine Duke, stated that the dangers presented by Hurricane Mitch “no longer exist, and thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated.”
This action taken by the current administration reflects a prominent element of President Trump’s agenda: cracking down on immigration.
Critics of the administration’s action note that some Nicaraguan immigrants have now lived here for almost twenty years. Many have careers, homes, and communities in the U.S. Some immigrants protected by TPS now have children that are U.S. citizens.
According to a report by the New York Times, Steven Choi, the Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, addressed the administration’s decision at a news conference.
“The Trump administration’s recommendation to terminate temporary protected status for hundreds of thousands of people from all over the globe living in the United States is cruel and shameful,” Choi said. “America will not be greater or safer by sending back people who’ve made their lives here.”