November 21, 2017
On Monday, November 6, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for approximately 2,500 Nicaraguans living in the United States. Temporary Protected Status is a program enacted by Congress in 1990 in which the Secretary of Homeland Security grants foreign-born individuals the opportunity to live and work in the United States if the conditions in their home countries are not conducive to safe and healthy living; specifically, if the country in which the foreign-born person lives is experiencing ongoing armed conflict (i.e. civil war), an environmental disaster or epidemic, or for “other extraordinary and temporary conditions” (National Immigration Forum). According to a DHS press release, Acting Secretary Elaine Duke chose to end TPS for the Nicaraguan community because the conditions in Nicaragua have since improved following Hurricane Mitch, a deadly category 5 storm that hit the country in 1998, essentially rendering the country inhabitable for a period of time. The termination of said status will go into effect on January 5, 2019, in order to give affected individuals time to adjust their immigration status or leave the country.
Just two weeks later, on Monday, November 20, DHS announced that Acting Secretary Duke would also be terminating TPS for 59,000 Haitians who have been in the United States since 2010, following the deadly earthquake that killed and displaced hundreds of thousands of people in Haiti. The termination will officially go into effect on July 22, 2019 so these individuals, like the Nicaraguans losing their TPS, will have time to leave the country or adjust their immigration before effectively losing temporary protection. This decision was based on a review of the current conditions in Haiti, as well as from internal recommendations within DHS, according to this DHS press release that was published on Monday (November 20).
The decision to end TPS for its Nicaraguan and Haitian recipients is demonstrative of the Trump administration’s efforts to unfairly crackdown on the immigrant community in the United States. Those who have come to the United States by way of TPS have lived here for years—some for decades—contributing to our country’s culture, economy, and making better lives for themselves and their children that they could not otherwise make in their countries of origin.
As it pertains specifically to the Haitian community that came to the US via TPS, nearly 30,000 children have been born in the States since their families came to the country following the devastating earthquake, from which the country is still recovering. These children are in a particularly precarious situation: while they themselves are citizens of the US and therefore entitled to stay, their parents may become forced to return to Haiti, splitting up the family unit, or alternatively bringing the children back to Haiti, a country with which they are unfamiliar and where their standard of living will be drastically lower. The opportunities that these children have been afforded as citizens of the US may become lost if their families or torn apart or if they must to return to the countries where their parents were born, but no longer consider home.
Both sides of the political aisle have condemned the decision to end TPS, especially as it pertains to the Haitian community. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) took to Twitter to voice his discontent, calling the decision “unconscionable,” as did Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who says that she can personally attest that Haiti is not prepared to take back the near 60,000 TPS recipients originally from the country. Given our current ultra-polarized political climate, to see two Congress members from two different parties voice the sentiment that this decision is both immoral and irresponsible should signify the grave injustice committed by DHS in ending TPS for its Nicaraguan and Haitian recipients.
- Stay Informed with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center: The Immigration Legal Resource Center (ILRC) works with and educates immigrants, community organizations, and the legal sector to continue to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people. ILRC has a plethora of publications and webinars to the keep the general public informed on legal matters pertaining to the immigrant community. In addition to purchasing a publication or attending a webinar, you can support ILRC through donating or subscribing to the email list.
- Get Involved with the International Refugee Assistance Project: The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), a project of the Urban Justice Center, organizes law students and lawyers to develop and enforce a set of legal and human rights for refugees and displaced persons. Mobilizing direct legal aid and systematic policy advocacy, IRAP serves the world’s most persecuted individuals and empowers the next generation of human rights leaders. To get involved with IRAP, you can donate, start your own local chapter, or sign up for action alerts.
- Support the National Immigration Forum: The National Immigration Forum is a DC-based nonprofit that leads the nation in constructive conversation and advocacy for the value of immigrants and immigration. The Forum is currently running a program called Immigration 2020, a multi-constituency effort to ensure that new Americans have the opportunities, skills, and status they need to contribute to the United States and realize their maximum potential. You can support The Forum’s work by attending their events, joining the email list, or donating to the organization.
This brief was compiled by Allie Blum. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.