SILVER SPRING, Maryland – The Trump administration’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status for 2,500 Nicaraguans in 12 months “is a cruel and ultimately short-sighted action that—in addition to disrupting the lives of thousands of families that help make the United States vibrant—will harm the country and the region,” said Jeanne Atkinson, executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. She urged the administration to reconsider its TPS decisions, which will break up families and send vulnerable people back to still-struggling nations, which are not prepared to absorb them.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke was unable to reach a decision on Honduras by the Nov. 6 deadline, triggering a six-month extension as required by the law.
Atkinson said the administration must use the next six months to heed the call of faith-based organizations, business leaders and the Honduran government that have called for an extension of TPS. TPS for Nicaragua and Honduras dates back to 1998 when Hurricane Mitch pummeled Central America. There have been other subsequent natural disasters and life-threatening conditions still exist in both countries.
There are currently 320,000 TPS holders in the United States from 10 countries. Nicaragua is one of a growing list of countries for which TPS has been terminated. “Sending people back to nations that are in no condition to receive them is a violation of international protocols on human rights as well as the values of the United States,” said Atkinson.
Bishop Kevin W. Vann, chairman of CLINIC’s board of directors, quoted Saint Pope John Paul II, “the fact that [a migrant] is a citizen of a particular state does not deprive him of membership to the human family.”
Bishop Vann, who heads the Diocese of Orange in California, argues that the responsibility to care for fellow members of the human family means TPS should not be revoked until safe return and reintegration can be assured.
“Decisions like this don’t exist in a vacuum,” said Jill Marie Bussey, CLINIC’s advocacy director. “There are broad implications that impact every corner of our country. Employers lose workers and are forced to absorb the turnover costs. Children—including U.S. citizen children—who are separated from their parents, suffer mentally, emotionally, and physically from the stress and heartbreak.”
“Acting Director Duke said DHS needs more information to make the decision for Honduras. We urge the incoming secretary to follow the law and listen to foreign policy and other subject matter experts that have on-the-ground experience in the country,” said Bussey. President Trump nominated Kirstjen Nielsen to fill the secretary seat left vacant by General John Kelly. “These are the life-or-death decisions that are in the hands of the DHS Secretary. We hope that members of Congress will keep TPS in mind when evaluating the appointee.”
The administration’s deadline to make a decision on the TPS designation for Haiti is due Nov. 23. CLINIC calls on Congress to act now to create a permanent solution for TPS holders whose lives hang in the balance as a result of these decisions.