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Temporary Protected Status for Nicaraguan Immigrants to End in January 2019

Around 86,000 Honduran immigrants may see their Temporary Protected Status terminated in 2018.   REUTERS  Lucas Jackson

Immigration advocates decried a Department of Homeland Security decision to end Temporary Protected Status for 2,500 Nicaraguans who have been living in the United States for almost 20 years.

When Hurricane Mitch struck Nicaragua and Honduras in 1998, both countries were granted TPS.

"They have roots in this country". In data shared with ThinkProgress, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency puts those numbers closer to 86,163 recipients for Honduras and 5,349 recipients for Nicaragua as of the end of calendar year 2016.

For Martínez, the elimination of TPS would mean having to forcefully return to El Salvador.

The irresponsible decision to end the TPS for Nicaraguans will tear families apart and disrupt the lives of these working individuals, the president of the Congress Hispanic Legislative Group, Michelle Lujan said on the measure announced yesterday. Haitians status is set to expire in January 2018, affecting about 50,000 people, majority in Florida, while Sanvadorans' status expires in March 2018, affecting almost 200,000 people.

Proponents of TPS for people from Central America and Haiti argue that ending the designation for those countries is counterproductive and could also drive more illegal immigration.

"The administration understands there are a number of individuals who have been in TPS status, potentially for 20 years, and given the lengthy period of the status here, [knows] that congressmen want to find a solution to find a more permanent status versus this 18-month to 18-month temporary fix", the senior administration official said.

But the bigger impact will come when the administration makes a final decision on Salvadorans and Haitians' status.

According to one study, Haitians, Salvadorans and Hondurans comprise the three largest TPS holders and together have a total of 273,000 children who were born in the United States and have American citizenship.

There are bipartisan legislative options now before Congress to protect TPS families.

In March, DHS extended TPS for Haiti by six months, although many interpreted this move as a sign that they opposed the program and would be terminating it this fall.

The DHS has given the Nicaraguan migrants 14 months to leave the USA or change their immigration status.

As ThinkProgress previously reported, some Haitian parents are weighing the costs of leaving their children here in the United States if they have to return.

Ben Cardin of Maryland and the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Monday, before the decision on Nicaragua and Honduras was announced.

Although TPS is renewed on a regular basis, the administration's approach to restrict protections from deportations have made TPS-holders nervous said Portos. The Trump administration will not consider them a priority for deportation, but they will be eligible for it, a DHS official told reporters Monday night.

Salvadorans and Haitians' fates are in limbo as the Department of Homeland Security decides what to do with those residents whose status expires in early January.