The Trump administration’s aggressive stance against immigrants continued on Friday (May 4) when the Department of Homeland Security announced that roughly 57,000 Hondurans, many living in the U.S. for 20 years, will lose their Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and must leave the country by January 2020.
The Hondurans join some 260,000 other immigrants from Haiti and El Salvador to lose TPS protections. Together, the three immigrant groups have an estimated 273,000 U.S.-born children who face the prospect of losing their parents or relocating to countries that teem with gang violence and register some of the highest murder rates in the world.
TPS, a form of humanitarian relief, is offered to immigrants from countries reeling from internal civil conflicts and natural disasters. The Honduran nationals were granted TPS after Hurricane Mitch devastated their country in 1998, and the nation currently suffers from violence stemming from drug trafficking and gangs. On Friday, however, DHS made no mention of the conditions on the ground. Instead, the government stressed that the Central American nation had recovered sufficiently from Hurricane Mitch.
"The secretary determined that the disruption of living conditions in Honduras from Hurricane Mitch that served as the basis for its TPS designation has decreased to a degree that it should no longer be regarded as substantial," DHS said in a statement. "Thus, as required under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated."
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández called the decision a "hard blow" for Hondurans in the United States and vowed to help them regulate their immigration status.
"These 18 months will present another opportunity to keep fighting for the well-being of all Hondurans no matter where they are," he said on Twitter. "We will take the necessary means to achieve permanent legal status for our compatriots protected by TPS."
Hondurans overseas play an important role in the nation’s economy. In 2016 alone, they sent home nearly $4 billion.
On Friday, the Boston-based Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice announced that it would add Hondurans to its lawsuit, filed in February on behalf of Salvadoran and Haitian TPS holders, which argues that the Trump administration’s decision to end deportation protections is racially motivated.
The lawsuit reads:
The decision by defendants President Donald J. Trump; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Kirstjen Nielsen in her official capacity as the current secretary of DHS; and Elaine C. Duke in her official capacity as acting secretary of DHS, to terminate TPS designation for Salvadorans and Haitians was impermissibly infected by invidious discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity and/or national origin and therefore cannot stand.
Separately, McClatchy on Monday (May 7) reported that the Trump administration is mulling the possibility of allowing some TPS holders from countries devastated by wars and natural disasters to remain in the U.S.
Citing three people familiar with the matter, McClatchy reports that the administration is weighing whether to allow some of these immigrants to benefit from Deferred Enforced Departure, another humanitarian relief program that can only be authorized by the president. It allows immigrants to reside in the U.S. but without a path toward citizenship or legal status.