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Temporary Protected Status for Nicaraguans canceled as of 2019

The Trump administration has decided to end temporary protected status (TPS) for Nicaraguans, which has been in place since 1999. TPS programs are sometimes put in place when immigrants come to the U.S. seeking refuge from war, catastrophe or natural disaster. The status typically remains in place until conditions in the home country improve to the point of general safety.

TPS status allows immigrants to live and work in the United States without fear of deportation, even if they originally arrived without authorization. Although the program for Nicaraguans is ending, the Department of Homeland Security has set the date at Jan. 5, 2019.

This is meant to allow those protected by the program to make arrangements to leave the U.S. or to adjust their immigration status. According to the New York Times, about 2,500 Nicaraguans are affected by the decision.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke said the decision to end TPS for Nicaraguans is largely based on a review of whether the conditions reported in 1999 have improved. This is required by law. In addition, she said that the Nicaraguan government has not requested an extension of the program.

According to the New York Times, however, the move is probably related to the Trump administration's stated goal of reducing both legal and illegal immigration to the U.S. The administration has argued that the protected status granted to these individuals has sometimes stretched into years or even decades, allowing immigrants to receive public benefits or to take jobs that Americans would otherwise hold.

TPS programs are also in place for people from Honduras, Haiti and several other nations. The Department of Homeland Security is currently determining whether to end the program for Honduras and Haiti.

Although Acting Secretary Duke has received information from a variety of sources regarding the safety of conditions in Honduras, she determined that additional data was needed. Since she has not yet made a determination to end the program, it was automatically extended through July 5, 2018. The program may be terminated, however, at that time. If it is, she said, an appropriate delay for orderly transition will be instituted.

Duke or her replacement will have until Thanksgiving to determine whether TPS beneficiaries would be safe returning to Haiti.

If you are in the United States and protected by TPS, you may have the opportunity to adjust your status. An immigration attorney -- not a notario -- is the best person to ask. Your meetings with an immigration attorney are completely confidential. You can discuss your options without putting your current status at risk.

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