DHS Must Decide by May 5, 2018 Whether to Extend TPS for Hondurans
A must-read NBC piece highlights the widespread political unrest and instability in Honduras, underscoring just how inhumane and problematic it would be if the Trump Administration doesn’t extend TPS for Honduran TPS holders past July 5th.
Last week in New York City, activists and experts joined Alianza Americas, a transnational network of immigrant organizations, on an U.S. tour to talk about TPS decisions over the course of the last several months, and how they have impacted specific communities.
To highlight the criticality of the situation, the piece opens with the case of Eddie Monroy, a man in his late twenties who was born and grew up in upstate New York. Monroy’s parents are Honduran natives who have been living in the United States for almost two decades, and now live in fear they will have to return to a country they barely even know.
The piece in its entirety can be accessed here, and follows below:
More than 400,000 immigrants in the U.S. are TPS beneficiaries, a program that gives protections to people from countries “unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately” due to armed conflicts or environmental disasters.
Though previous administrations kept on extending beneficiaries’ TPS status, the Trump administration has taken a different stance. In November, DHS ended TPS for 60,000 Haitians who arrived after the 2010 earthquake, giving them an 18-month period to leave. In November, the administration announced they would not extend TPS for Nicaraguans, saying the country was recovered from Hurricane Mitch and gave them 14 months to leave the U.S.
The administration deferred their decision on Honduran TPS holders until the summer. On Wednesday in New York City, activists and experts warned against ending TPS status for Honduran Americans, given the country’s current situation. They joined Alianza Americas, a transnational network of immigrant organizations, on an U.S. tour to talk about the country’s recent events.
Honduras is among the countries with the world’s highest rates of murder, violence and corruption, according to Human Rights Watch. Roughly one in five Hondurans live in extreme poverty, according to the World Bank. It is also the Latin American country with the highest level of economic inequality.
Over the years, rampant crime and gang activity have fueled large immigration waves to the U.S. Many Hondurans living in the U.S. have fled gang violence perpetrated by MS-13 and rival gang Barrio 18 as these networks and drug traffickers have expanded their hold in Central America. Others are political or economic exiles.
“People start to migrate because they can’t find security, or employment, because they don’t have enough to eat or where to live,” said Claudia Mendoza, a consultant at the Center for the Study of Democracy, CESPAD and a Univision correspondent.
“Now, to that violence, you have to add the political violence,” said Joaquin Mejia, a human rights lawyer and researcher at the Reflection, Investigation and Communication Team known as ERIC.
The current hostile political climate in Honduras surfaced this past November due to fraud allegations in recent elections, when public vote count updates were abruptly interrupted. Before the halt, candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez was at a disadvantage with nearly 60 percent of the vote counted. Over 24 hours later, the results shifted and Hernandez ended up winning over opponent Salvador Nasralla.
Hernandez became the first candidate in Honduran history to run for re-election after hand-picking a Supreme Court that lifted the country’s Constitutional ban on re-elections in 2015.
Last year’s election results sparked outrage and thousands of people took to the streets — leading President Hernandez to impose a military-charge overnight curfew across the nation. At least 30 people were killed during the massive, violent protests.
Amid protests and the Organization of American States’ (OAS) call for a re-election after finding “irregularities and deficiencies” in the Honduran electoral process, the United States recognized Hernandez’s win, and Jan. 27th he was sworn in for a second term. A month before, the U.S. State Department announced it was recognizing Honduras for advancing human rights and cracking down on corruption, paving the way for millions of dollars in U.S. aid.
Critics such as Mejía said the U.S. endorsement of Hernandez’s second term amid the electoral controversy sent a “terrible message” to people in Honduras and Latin America. “It means that democracy doesn’t work in order to change a regime,” he said.
In the meantime, Mejía said more Hondurans are seeking asylum and trying to leave in the election’s aftermath and the ensuing violence.
“You have the government of Donald Trump, he’s taking away protections like TPS and DACA, then raises the standards for people seeking asylum, at the same time promoting a violence that causes more people to leave,” added Mejia.