As the federal government has until May 6 to make a decision on renewal of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Hondurans, immigrants on Long Island are once again bracing for the potential termination of yet another lifeline program.
“Everything is at stake for them,” Elise Damas, immigration legal services director at the Central American Refugee Center in Hempstead, told Newsday. “For some, even their lives are at stake. Going back to a country like Honduras that is so plagued by criminal activity and violence . . . carries the great risk of being targeted for perceived wealth.”
Although there is no data available on the number of Long Island Honduran TPS holders, there are approximately 8,818 throughout the New York metropolitan area, according to a report from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center compiling American Community Survey statistics.
The Trump administration must make a decision on ending or extending the program 60 days before it is set to expire on July 5. In November 2017, then-Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke said that she did not yet have enough information to make a decision on Honduran TPS and that she would delay making any decision for six months.
Even though the TPS designation was granted for the devastation of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, the country still endures conditions that makes TPS even more critically necessary. Dana Frank, a professor of modern Honduran history at the University of California, Santa Cruz told Mother Jones that “if things were terrible after Mitch…they’re much, much worse now.”
In fact, Honduras has been consistently ranked as one of the world’s most dangerous countries amid high homicide rates and political instability. In 2012, the country held the dubious distinction of having the world’s highest rate of murders: 90 murders per 100,000 people each year, Mother Jones reported.
With the White House already chopping down TPS for El Salvador, Haiti, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan, there isn’t much hope for a positive decision for about 57,000 Honduran TPS holders across the country.
On April 25, more than 600 faith leaders and organizations–including some from Long Island–wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen pleading to keep TPS in place for Hondurans.
“…Without question, families would be torn apart as Honduran TPS parents are faced with the impossible decision to be separated from U.S. citizen children, or bring them into harm’s way,” the letter read.