The Trump administration announced that it will end a special immigration program that protects some 5,000 Nicaraguan immigrants in the United States from deportation.
According to officials in Washington, the program has run its course and is no longer necessary for Nicaraguans residing on American soil.
The Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, said immigrants in possession of the permit will be given a year’s notice to return to their country. A 12-month delay is also necessary, Duke says, for the Nicaraguan government to prepare to receive an influx of thousands of displaced citizens.
“This will provide time for individuals with TPS to seek an alternative lawful immigration status in the United States, if eligible, or, if necessary, arrange for their departure,” read a Department of Homeland Security statement.
Critics of the program, as reported by Fox News, say the special immigration status allowed nationals of Nicaragua and Honduras to continue extending their stay in the United States, despite neither country being in a current state of war or disaster.
Nicaragua was ravaged by a series of civil wars throughout the latter decades of the 20th century. The Central Intelligence Agency provided covert support for right-wing rebels, intending to displace a democratically-elected socialist government.
Despite being comparatively stable, Nicaragua remains the second-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, trailing only Haiti.
Honduras, on the other hand, remains at the epicenter of gang violence in Latin America – the small nation has one of the highest intentional homicide rates in the world.
Residents of both countries were allowed to obtain special residency permits in the United States after their homelands were ravaged by Hurricane Mitch in 1999.
Duke said in a statement that the conditions enabling the program’s creation “no longer exist, and thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated.”
According to Vox, the program has been criticized by the Trump administration as a supposedly “temporary” construct which enables would-be migrants to continue living in the United States indefinitely.
However, one of the main obstacles facing the program’s dissolution is a simple matter of humanity and reproduction – the thousands of Nicaraguans and Hondurans now living in the United States have created lives and households over the course of the past two decades.
Vox estimates that TPS recipients in the United States have about 53,000 children – one of the main reasons why TPS permit structures have been renewed for Honduran nationals 10 times.
Since the announcement, the government of Honduras has petitioned the White House not to cancel or suspend the program.
Strangely, Vox recounts, even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has come out in favor of continuing TPS, seeming to share the opinion that thousands of integrated immigrants in America are assets to the economy rather than burdens in need of deportation.