Department of Homeland Security terminates TPS for Nicaraguans. Is Honduras Next? And Will Congress Finally Act?

On November 6, 2017, Acting Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Nicaragua.

The DHS may designate TPS for a country due to ongoing war, environmental disaster or other extraordinary conditions that make it unsafe for individuals to return to their home country.  A grant of TPS protects recipients from deportation and provides them with employment authorization.

TPS for Nicaragua was designated in January of 1999, in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch which left some 3,800 Nicaraguans dead and displaced nearly 370,000 others.  There are approximately 2,500 Nicaraguans with TPS in the United States who have established deep family, community and employment ties.  Under the DHS’ announcement, they now have until January 5, 2019 to find alternative immigration options or depart the United States.

The DHS delayed a determination on the fate of TPS for Hondurans.  There are approximately 57,000 Hondurans with TPS in the United States and their status is set to expire on July 5, 2018.  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has already stated the State Department’s opinion that TPS for Central Americans and Haitians is no longer needed.  With these developments it seems extremely likely that TPS for Honduras will also be terminated next year.

The question now is whether Congress will step in and pass long-overdue legislation that will provide a permanent solution to the tens of thousands of TPS holders who have been living and working lawfully in the United States for years – even decades.  On October 31, 2017, bi-partisan legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives.  The “Extending Status Protection for Eligible Refugees with Established Residency Act of 2017” would allow TPS holders from Haiti, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras who have been in the United States with TPS since January of 2011 to apply for permanent residency.  With the anti-immigrant stance of the Republican majority in the House, the chances of such legislation ultimately passing and becoming law are slim.

In all likelihood, many TPS holders may be eligible for other relief under the current immigration laws as many have US citizen spouses or adult children who could sponsor them for permanent residence.  Some may even be able to benefit from an employer’s sponsorship.  If you are a TPS recipient and have questions about your status and alternative immigration options in the United States, contact our office today at 213 – 627 – 8997 or book your appointment online today.

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