The program that allows immigrants from Nicaragua to live in the US without fear of deportation will end in January 2019, the US government has announced. The decision will affect thousands of Nicaraguan immigrants who will either have to find another legal avenue by which to remain in the country or leave the US.
Nicaraguans gained Temporary Protected Status (TPS) almost two decades ago when Central America was devastated by Hurricane Mitch back in 1999 and has been renewed ever since. The administrations of former Presidents, George W Bush and Barack Obama claimed that the Central American countries were still unable to cope with the sudden return of thousands of nationals.
But, critics argue that the program was created only to offer temporary protection following a disaster, yet has become permanent, resulting in many immigrants staying for decades by renewing their US visas over and over again. The TPS program has allowed tens of thousands of immigrants from Honduras, and thousands from Nicaragua, to live and work in the US for nearly 20 years, with many raising families.
The announcement that the TPS designation would end for Nicaraguans came on Monday, from the Department of Homeland Security’s acting secretary, Elaine Duke. She said that the conditions under which the TPS had been initially granted no longer exist and that the program, which was set to end in January 2018, would extend for one more year to give immigrants the chance to make alternative arrangements in an orderly manner.