Tegucigalpa (AFP) – Honduras expressed regret Friday that around 60,000 of its citizens living and working in the United States are losing special protection status under tougher migration changes brought in by President Donald Trump.
The US Department of Homeland Security announced in a statement that it was ending the so-called Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Hondurans, but giving 18 months’ time, to January 5, 2020, “to allow for an orderly transition.”
Trump’s government has already announced it is terminating the TPS category for citizens from El Salvador, Haiti, Nepal and Nicaragua. That status will cease to apply for them on different dates next year.
The Honduran Foreign Ministry said it recognized the end of TPS was a “sovereign decision,” but added it “deeply regrets the cancellation of the TPS program.”
Those migrants living in the United States under the soon-to-be-scrapped TPS will have to find other ways to retain legal US residence or face being returned to their countries of origin.
The United States accepted more than 100,000 Hondurans under the temporary protection status given in 1999, following devastation caused in Honduras by Hurricane Mitch the previous year.
US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said it had “determined that the disruption of living conditions in Honduras from Hurricane Mitch that served as the basis for its TPS designation has decreased to a degree that it should no longer be regarded as substantial.”
Trump’s administration has taken a harder line against migrants, especially those coming from Latin America over the US southern border with Mexico.
The US president has repeatedly vowed to have a wall built along the border, and last month sent hundreds of National Guard troops to bolster monitoring along the frontier.