On Friday, reports announced that the Donald Trump administration would be returning a large number of ‘temporary protected status’ recipients back to their nations of origin in the near future.
The administration has reportedly decided that they will give 57,000 Hondurans, who received the protected status after a 1999 hurricane, 12-18 months to return to their home nation, deporting them from the nation after 20 years of holding the protected status in the United States. Many people wonder of the government is ignoring the previous extension.
Temporary protected status for citizens of foreign nations brought to the U.S. is not permanent. The name indicates as much, and the fact that the status must be voted on every two years also suggests that the protection is meant to be a temporary one, not a permanent one.
In the case of the 57,000 Hondurans, they were first granted the protections during the Bill Clinton administration, after Hurricane Mitch ravaged Honduras. Since then, over nearly two decades and three presidents, no politician told them that it was time to return to their homeland.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has, according to a spokesperson, not yet made a decision. However, reports suggest that the administration is going to revoke the protected status.
No matter what, a decision on the program is fast approaching, as the TPS status must be either renewed or revoked by July 6.
Technically, the status needed to be renewed earlier in the year, but the Acting DHS Secretary decided to push the decision to renew the two-year program from January 5, 2018, to July 6, 2018.
Likely, this was done to allow time for confirmation of a new DHS Secretary.
Last fall, the Department of Homeland Security declared that it would be ending temporary protected status for a number of countries, including Nepal, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Sudan, Liberia, Haiti, and Honduras.
These TPS programs account for more than 300,000 people in the United States of America. About one out of every thousand people in the United States is part of these programs, in other words.
The problem is that these programs are meant to be temporary.
Temporary protected status is not meant to be a long-term solution, it’s meant to be a short-term solution for people whose homelands were destroyed by natural disasters, or who had to flee due to wars and similar catastrophic events.
Once the disaster or catastrophe is over, those allowed into the country on a protected basis are supposed to return to their home nations and resume their lives there.
However, living in the United States offers much more to these people than they can get in Honduras, Nicaragua, or Liberia. There is more opportunity, better living conditions, and better education.
Because of this, it is sometimes hard to convince them to leave. Furthermore, for a politician concerned with keeping up appearances, it can look awful in the media. The imagery of sending people back to the third world does not play out well.
While the Department of Homeland Security may be sending back the majority of those covered under TPS in the United States, they are not returning them all.
Secretary Nielsen announced that she would be renewing the TPS for Syrians who fled the conflict in their homeland, and who were approved for an additional 18-months of protected status in the United States.
So, what would happen next for those who have their status revoked?
Firstly, they would be provided the aforementioned 12 to 18 months to leave the country.
Under certain circumstances, they could be able to apply to stay in the country on a more permanent basis, either to continue their education, to continue operating a small business, or due to their contributions to the nation.
Those who do not leave will be treated like illegal immigrants after the grace period ends. If caught, they would be deported.
In the nearly two decades since Hurricane Mitch ravaged the nation, Honduras has improved by leaps and bounds. While it may not be as prosperous as the United States, there is no longer any legitimate reason to keep its citizens in the country under a ‘protected’ status.
The United States needs to be more serious about the ‘temporary’ part of temporary protected status. It’s a short-term solution, not something meant to allow people to live in the United States for twenty years.
The loss of 57,000 Hondurans will impact some communities certainly. But if they love living in the United States so much, they are likely to be able to come back as citizens, provided they follow the proper steps like anyone else. After all, they were already approved for entrance once before.
Most importantly, citizens need to know that the government is serious when it tells people that something is temporary. The United States needs to better control immigration into the country, and this is one of the first steps in that process.
The President and the DHS are acting appropriately, and it’s about time.