The US State Department has announced plans to terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program, which allowed Haitians and immigrants from several Central American countries to arrive in the US due to hardships in their countries of origin.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — US Secretary of Shate Rex Tillerson has suggested stripping over 300,000 Haitian and Central American immigrants of their special status, which protects them from deportation, US officials told a local media outlet.
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He wrote a letter to the Homeland Security Department on Tuesday, saying migrants no longer needed the temporary protected status, since conditions in their countries of origin are not as dire as they were at the time when they chose to reside in the US, administration officials told the Washington Post. TPS immigrants, many of whom had established lives in the US over the course of years, quickly took to the social media to cry foul.
The news comes days before the DHS has to make a final decision whether to extend the TPS or terminate it. Tillerson’s letter is not binding on the DHS, though the Department of State has its say in the decision making process.
TPS was established by Congress in 1990 to protect people from Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras from being sent back to their home countries, which had been plagued by warfare and natural disasters. Thousands of undocumented immigrants from Central American countries were shielded by it after they fled to the United States in the wake of Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
Protections have been routinely renewed every few years since then. The beneficiaries of the program live in the United States legally due to the waiver and many of them have children who hold American citizenship. They have responded the move to eject them with protests, rallies and petitions in an attempt to avoid deportation and gain the right to stay in the US as official permanent residents.