The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday it would revoke the Temporary Protected Status of some 5,200 Nicaraguans living in the U.S. after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recommended booting Nicaragua from the program last week.
TPS allows citizens from disaster-stricken countries to live and work in the U.S. until their home countries recover.
Speaking with reporter by phone Monday night, acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke said Nicaraguans living in the U.S. had 12 months to "seek alternative lawful immigration status" or make arrangements for their departure.
When Hurricane Mitch struck Nicaragua and Honduras in 1998, both countries were granted TPS. But the protected status of nearly 57,000 Hondurans, many of whom have also lived in the U.S. for decades, was also threatened by Duke's announcement.
Duke has until Nov. 23 to decide whether some 195,000 El Salvadorians and 58,000 Haitians will retain their protected status. In May, though, DHS signaled it would rescind Haiti's TPS. "The Department of Homeland Security urges Haitian TPS recipients who do not have another immigration status to use the time before Jan. 22, 2018 to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States," the memo read.
Previous administrations have renewed the TPS for Honduras at least ten times, according to Vox. But the very nature of TPS is antithetical to the Trump administration's immigration policy. John Kelly, then DHS Secretary, emphasized the program's "temporary" nature in May despite how long thousands of TPS holders have lived in the U.S. Cancelling TPS benefits, however, directly aligns with the Trump administration's anti-immigrant crusade.
Nicaraguans and Hondurans with TPS will be required to reapply for Employment Authorization Documents in order to legally work in the United States until the end of the respective termination or extension periods. Further details about this renewal for TPS will appear in a Federal Register notice.