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USA Today: Trump Team Uses New Rationale to Terminate TPS for 300,000 Immigrants from Countries Still in Turmoil

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In a continuation of articles for USA Today, Alan Gomez highlights the new rationale being used by the Trump administration to terminate TPS for over 300,000 TPS holders. Gomez also clearly explains the dangerous and deteriorating conditions in the six countries that TPS holders will be forced to return to once their respective programs expire.

Key excerpts from Gomez’s article, “Trump team uses new rationale to terminate TPS program for hundreds of thousands of legal immigrants,” are below:

For the past year, the Trump administration has been phasing out a special immigration program that has allowed hundreds of thousands of foreigners from nations devastated by natural disasters and civil strife to live and work in the U.S. as legal residents.

… The result could be the removal – sometimes willingly, sometimes forced – of 98 percent of the 317,000 foreigners in the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program. It remains unclear what will happen to the 230,000 children they’ve had while in the U.S., all citizens by birth.

… Shortly after President Donald Trump moved into the White House, everything changed. U.S. law states that TPS shall be terminated if a country no longer meets the original conditions for TPS. Homeland Security says that means subsequent disasters don’t count.

Some officials within Homeland Security believe the administration didn’t reach honest conclusions when it declared each TPS country sufficiently recovered from their original disasters. In one email exchange, an official complained that the summary of conditions in three countries are too negative, requesting more examples of “positive steps” taken since the country was first granted TPS.

Current conditions described in the article, “The six countries 300,000 immigrants must return to with end of TPS program,” are highlighted below:

TPS ends: November 2, 2018
TPS first granted: 1997
Reason for TPS designation: Civil war
Estimated number of TPS recipients: 1,040

… In its justification for ending TPS, the administration said armed conflict “is limited to” two southern provinces and the western province of Darfur, which rose to international prominence in the early 2000s when hundreds of thousands were killed and millions forced to flee as refugees.

The United Nations Security Council paints a more dire picture. A December report on the Darfur region found that food insecurity remains at crisis levels, human rights abuses continue, and the region is being flooded by people fleeing violence in South Sudan, with 89,000 refugees arriving in Darfur in 2017, further hindering the region’s recovery efforts.

TPS ends: January 5, 2019
TPS first granted: 1999
Estimated number of TPS recipients: 2,550
Reason for TPS: Hurricane Mitch

… The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights estimates that since April, at least 322 people have been killed in the violence, and hundreds more have been arrested. The White House even issued a round of sanctions in July against three Nicaraguan officials, accusing them of human rights abuses, and suspended the sale of any U.S. vehicles or equipment “that Ortega’s security forces might misuse.

… Thale recently spoke with a group of Nicaraguan priests who have been using churches and other buildings to hide protesters who have become targets of the regime. Thale said those are the very same priests who would help returning Nicaraguans safely reintegrate into society. But now, with the country beset by so much chaos: “They’re a little busy with other things.”

TPS ends: June 24, 2019
TPS first granted: 2015
Estimated number of TPS recipients: 8,950
Reason for TPS: Earthquake

… Prabha Deuja, president of the Virginia-based America Nepal Society, visited the region in January and said she saw construction efforts all around. But she said the country’s isolated location, and it’s limited government resources, has made it difficult to complete reconstruction and prepare Nepal for an influx of new residents.

This is a third-world country. We have to get sand and supplies from different countries,” she said. If TPS holders had to return, “I can’t tell you what they will do. The job market, where they’re staying, it’s a really gray area.”

TPS ends: July 22, 2019
TPS first granted: 2010
Estimated population: 46,000
Reason for TPS: Earthquake

… First designated for TPS following the catastrophic earthquake in 2010 that killed more than 200,000, the country has since been hit by a cholera outbreak, an island-wide drought, and a direct hit by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 that created, in the words of the U.S. State Department, “a new humanitarian emergency.”

Frank Mora, director of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University, said all of those ensuing problems have exacerbated Haiti’s earthquake recovery and cannot be treated as separate, individual crises. “Haiti is still living with the consequences of the earthquake,” he said.

El Salvador
TPS ends: Sept. 9, 2019
TPS first granted: 1991
Estimated number of TPS recipients: 195,000
Reason for TPS: Earthquake

… In 2016, the Central American nation was deemed the murder capital of the world with a homicide rate of 104 people per 100,000, the highest for any country in nearly 20 years, according to data from the World Bank. The homicide rate reportedly fell in 2017, but crime remains so rampant that only 12% of Salvadorans believed that drop, according to InSight Crime.

In July, the U.S. State Department issued a Level 3 Travel Warning (on a scale of 1 – 4) urging Americans to reconsider traveling to El Salvador. “Violent crime, such as murder, assault, rape, and armed robbery, is common,” the advisory read.

Yet that is where the Trump administration has decided to send the largest group of TPS recipients, nearly 200,000 of them.

TPS ends: Jan. 5, 2020
TPS first granted: 1999
Estimated number of TPS recipients: 57,000
Reason for TPS: Hurricane Mitch

Thale says the country remains in the grip of drug cartels who use kidnappings as a standard way to generate income. He said that makes any returning Honduran a “walking invitation for extortion.”

He said gangs will undoubtedly know who is returning to their neighborhoods, and will target people who are returning with cash after selling off their homes, cars, businesses and other goods before leaving the U.S. So how, Thale wondered, could anyone think that Honduras is in a position to successfully, and peacefully, welcome an influx of 57,000 people. “No sane person thinks they can,” he said.