Central America TPS Decisions; TPS Questions

Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Elaine Duke ended temporary protected status (TPS) for Nicaragua– effective in 1 year– and has essentially extended the status for Honduran nationals. At the same time, Duke is asking Congress to legislate permanent boundaries around policies intended to provide temporary status.

Duke attributes her decision to end TPS for Nicaragua to a review of those causal conditions in the country around the country’s original 1999 designation “and whether those substantial but temporary conditions prevented Nicaragua from adequately handling the return of their nationals, as required by statute,” according to a November 6 DHS release. In addition, officials in the Nicaraguan government submitted no requests for an extension of current TPS status, which went into effect due to Hurricane Mitch.  

Nicaragua TPS will end Jan. 5, 2019. The 12-month delay provides affected individuals to seek an alternative lawful immigration status, which is contingent on eligibility. The time frame also allows individuals to arrange for departure in cases involving lawful-status ineligibility as well as providing time for officials in the Nicaraguan government to prepare for the return and reintegration of citizens.

Where Honduras is concerned, despite “input from a broad spectrum of sources,” Duke is looking to assess additional information in terms of conditions on the ground as compared to conditions prior to Hurricane Mitch. Duke’s inconclusive assessment status automatically extends the current TPS status for Honduras for 6 months– through July 5, 2018.

“Recognizing the difficulty facing citizens of Nicaragua– and potentially citizens of other countries– who have received TPS designation for close to 2 decades, Acting Secretary Duke calls on Congress to enact a permanent solution for this inherently temporary program,” according to the release.

According to a report published by NBC News, the conservative DHS leadership brought in with the Trump presidency is exploring the overall nature of TPS. “We are looking at the fact that temporary protected status means temporary, and it has not been temporary for many years,” DHS spokesman David Lapan says. “We, the U.S. government, have created a situation where people have lived in this country a long time.”