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Houston Immigration Activists Criticize End Of Temporary Protected Status For Nicaraguans

The Trump Administration argues the status, which was granted in 1999 under President Bill Clinton after hurricane Mitch, is no longer necessary


Yurexi Quinones, 24, of Manassas, Va., a college student who is studying social work and a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, rallies next to Ana Rice, 18, of Manassas, Va., far right, in support of DACA and the Temporary Protected Status (TPS), outside of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017.

Local immigration activists criticized Tuesday the Trump Administration's decision to end the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for people from Nicaragua, and demanded the federal government maintains the status and offers its beneficiaries an opportunity to become United States permanent residents.

Nicaraguans were granted TPS back in 1999 when Bill Clinton was President of the United States.

The U.S. made that decision after the devastation hurricane Mitch caused in Nicaragua, as well as in Honduras, in 1998.

Currently, 5,000 Nicaraguans live in the U.S. under TPS and, according to the Congressional Research Service, about 2,550 were expected to renew their status, the AP reports.

According to 2016 US Census Bureau figures, almost 10,000 Nicaraguans were living in Harris County, however it’s not clear how many of those are under TPS status.

Elaine Duke, acting Secretary of Homeland Security, said Monday that TPS was no longer necessary for Nicaraguans and specified those who are in the U.S. will be given 12 months to return to their country.

Reacting the government's decision, Carlos Duarte, director of the Texas chapter of the grassroots organization Mi Familia Vota, said: “What we see is a pattern of the [Trump] Administration of not wanting to renew the Temporary Protected Status as part of a wider strategy to deport immigrants.”

Duarte added the decision will disrupt families and could also create a situation by which some TPS beneficiaries could “become undocumented immigrants.”

For Teodoro Aguiluz, executive director of Houston based Center of Central American Resources (CRECEN, by its Spanish acronym), TPS beneficiaries “should be considered” to be granted permanent residency in the U.S.

Aguiluz argues that these “are people who, every 18 months, every time they have renewed their fingerprints have been processed by the U.S. Department of [Homeland] Security” and added they are people of “good moral character who have abided by all the laws of this country and all the requirements.”

Aguiluz also stressed that many of the Nicaraguans impacted by the government's decision have children who have been born in the U.S. and the vast majority are employed and productive members of the communities where they live.

Amanda Baran, a consultant with the national non-profit Immigrant Legal Resource Center, said her organization doesn’t think TPS is no longer justified for Nicaraguans.

Baran noted that the Central American country was hit by hurricane Otto in 2016 and hurricane Nate this year, so the assumption that they can safely and effectively take back the TPS beneficiaries is questionable.

The government has postponed until July the decision to renew the TPS for 86,000 people from Honduras who are currently in the country because of this program.

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