The United States Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen announced Friday the decision to terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) visa program, which protected over 56,000 Honduran immigrants from deportation since 1999.
During President Donald Trump’s administration 200,000 Salvadorans, 50,000 Haitians and 9,000 Nepalis have lost their protected status along with smaller groups of immigrants from Nicaragua and Sudan.
In her statement, Nielsen argued “the disruption of living conditions in Honduras from Hurricane Mitch that served as the basis for its TPS designation has decreased to the degree that it should no longer be regarded as substantial. Thus, as required under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated."
Termination of Hondurans’ TPS shows the disregard to the rampant violence in the country that have led many to look for refuge in the U.S., fleeing threats of violence and death by drug cartels, mining companies, and the military.
In an interview with National Public Radio, Honduran immigrant Orlando Lopez said: "I'm afraid to return. It's a matter of life or death… Here, I have a business. I pay taxes. I have a clean record."
On the same day, this decision was announced, Trump said during the annual congress of the National Rifle Association (NRA) that U.S. immigration laws were “written by people who cannot love our country.”
For many of the thousands of Honduras who live in the United States the Trump administration’s decision is a death sentence. And for many more, the choice is a critical blow to their livelihoods as Honduran remittances are an important source of incomes families in Honduras. Remittances represent 19.5 percent of Honduras’ Gross National Product.
The Honduran government “deeply” lamented TPS termination. The decision affects “good people who have integrated into North American life, adopting their customs, traditions and contributing significantly to the country’s economy and society” the foreign ministry of Honduras said.
President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who continues to face protests over electoral fraud, said the decision was a “tough blow for Hondurans in U.S territory and all the people of Honduras.”