The United States Government extended for another 18 months the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program, which benefits more than 300,000 migrants from Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Nepal.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the decision for these four nations, whose permanence in the United States was at risk after the Donald Trump Administration (2017-2021) tried to withdraw their immigration benefit.
The permits for each of the four nationalities had different expiration dates in the next six months. With the decision of this Tuesday, June 13, 2023, migrants will be able to remain legally in the country until 2025.
Specifically, until January 2025 for Nepalis and Nicaraguans, March for Salvadorans, and July for Hondurans.
Nicaraguans received TPS for the first time in 1999 after the disaster caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. By 2021, some 4,250 Nicaraguans already had Protected Status, according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (Uscis), in a report to Congress.
From El Salvador some 241,699 citizens have TPS, from Honduras there are some 76,737 and from Nepal at least 14,556, according to data from Uscis. The decision of the Biden Administration will allow approximately 337,000 citizens to benefit.
The TPS allows you to live and work in the United States without fear of deportation, although it does not grant a path to residence or citizenship, for which it must be renewed every 18 months. Those who lose protection become vulnerable to deportation.
Trump tried to end protection
Between 2017 and 2018, then-US President Donald Trump tried to end TPS for Nicaraguans and other nationalities; however, a group of civil rights organizations filed a legal appeal before federal courts, a process that is still ongoing.
The Biden Administration’s announcement “is directly related to the ongoing court case,” a source familiar with government planning told CBS News.
The lawyer and expert in international law and resident in the United States, Harold Rocha, indicated that there is a court hearing scheduled for June 22, so the extension “allows an out-of-court agreement to be reached.”
Trump tried to end most TPS programs, arguing that “previous administrations had abused their authority.”
The main organization in defense of TPS beneficiaries, Alianza Nacional TPS, considered the announcement a victory for the activists’ struggle, but criticized the government for not taking action sooner.
“President Biden should have restored TPS on his first day in office (…) today we have no one to thank except the families who became activists and fought against dehumanization,” said Jose Palma, spokesman for the organization, in a statement.
Currently, the Government grants TPS to hundreds of thousands of migrants from 16 countries, including Afghanistan, Ukraine, Venezuela, and South Sudan, who were included in this program under the Biden Administration.
Fight for an “enlargement”
The TPS program, created by a 1990 law, directs federal officials to stop deportation and give work permits to migrants from countries beset by war, environmental disaster, or other “extraordinary” crisis.
Based on this legal aspect, the Nicaraguan diaspora in the United States has been promoting a campaign for months so that TPS be expanded to also benefit citizens who fled the repression and political violence in Nicaragua, unleashed by the Ortega regime since the protests in April 2018.
Rocha stressed that, despite not obtaining the extension, “we are still campaigning for a new designation that protects Nicaraguans who have arrived in the US from 2018 to date.”
“In fact, this morning (Tuesday, June 13) a group of young people, whose parents would benefit from TPS, will be received by White House officials and will request a new designation,” he commented.