The Trump administration has ended temporary immigration protection for more than 400,000 migrants in the previous year.
"The decision to terminate TPS for Honduras was made after a review of the environmental disaster-related conditions upon which the country's original 1999 TPS designation was based and an assessment of whether those originating conditions continue to exist, as required by statute".
The move brings the total number of immigrants for whom the administration has chose to end temporary protected status in the past year to more than 425,000, many who have lived in the US legally for decades, according to numbers from US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Administration officials have argued TPS decisions must be based exclusively on whether the country conditions have improved with regard to the situations that led to the protections in the first place ― in the case of Honduras and El Salvador, devastation caused by a hurricane in 1998. More than 11,000 people across Central America died and millions were left homeless in the wake of the storm.
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DHS said in a statement that conditions "that resulted from the hurricane have notably improved" and the disruption caused by the hurricane had "decreased to a degree that it should no longer be regarded as substantial".
Honduras has one of the world's highest murder rates outside of a war zone. Irregularities in last November's presidential election have led to massive street protests, which have turned violent. Security forces have used excessive and lethal force against protesters, and shot a majority of the people who were killed in protests, the United Nations human rights office reported. "Forcing their return to a country that is wracked by endemic violence and poverty will put their lives in danger, separate families, and have devastating effects on communities both in Honduras and the United States".
"The Trump administration is turning its back on thousands of families who arrived from Honduras seeking safety", said Marselha Gonçalves Margerin, an advocacy director at Amnesty International USA. Immigrants with TPS receive deportation protection, work authorization, and can even get driver's licenses. The 18-month timeline to end the program would allow "individuals with TPS to arrange for their departure or to seek an alternative lawful immigration", the Department of Homeland Security said in a news release.
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Fifty-six members of Congress signed a petition this week urging Nielsen to renew protections for Honduras, who include 46,700 workers in the United States, according to the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. At least 88 of them have been allowed into the United States thus far, but dozens more are still waiting at the border. They now have until January 5, 2020, to sort out their affairs before returning home - or try to normalize their migratory status in other ways, such as through marriage or sponsorship.
In an interview with National Public Radio, Honduran immigrant Orlando Lopez said: "I'm afraid to return".
During President Donald Trump's administration 200,000 Salvadorans, 50,000 Haitians and 9,000 Nepalis have lost their protected status along with smaller groups of immigrants from Nicaragua and Sudan. The program was created to give people whose countries are devastated by natural disasters or other crises a temporary sanctuary until the conditions improve enough to return.
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The U.K. and European Union parliaments also want Zuckerberg to answer their questions publicly, though he has so far declined. More details could emerge when Cambridge Analytica files for bankruptcy protection in NY , as planned.
Curbelo, a leading Republican voice for immigration reform, touted the importance of Honduran TPS recipients, stating that the group had become essential to the region by contributing to the local economy and culture. The refugees will have 18 months to leave the country.