TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced Friday it is extending temporary protected status coverage for migrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan through Jan. 4, 2021.
The status, which has been granted because of disasters or conflicts in those countries, had been set to expire in January 2020, or in Nepal’s case, March.
Trump administration has been trying to end TPS for those countries since 2018, but that move has been tied up by court appeals.
Under Trump’s original plan, an estimated 428,000 people from several countries had faced rolling deadlines to leave or obtain legal residency in other ways.
The department said Friday the extension was enacted to comply with court injunctions against the move, which it said it’s appealing. It said that if it wins the appeals, Salvadorans will still have a full year, and Haitians will have at least 120 days.
Honduras’ President Juan Orlando Hernandez called the announcement “good news.” He noted that TPS status has allowed over 40,000 Hondurans to live and work in the United States since Hurricane Mitch caused widespread damage in Honduras in 1999.
Hernandez wrote in his Twitter account that “We will continue working to find a permanent and humane solution for out Honduran brothers.”
Earlier this week, U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Ronald Johnson had announced the one-year extension for more than 200,000 Salvadorans, the largest single group in TPS.
Later, Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, appeared to contradict the ambassador, saying via Twitter that the actual TPS program for Salvadorans wasn’t being extended in legal terms: “That’s not what happened.”
The effect, however, appeared to be essentially the same: Salvadorans who have been living in the U.S. under the TPS program — safe from deportation and allowed to work legally — will continue to do so for at least a year after courts resolve challenge to Trump’s policy.
Trump — who wants to curtail legal immigration and has been cracking down broadly on illegal immigration — and his supporters note that the protections were never meant to be permanent.
Immigrant advocates decried the move and contend that ending the status will drive people underground who have been establishing roots in the U.S. for years or decades, including having American-born children.