The Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has sent a letter to Elaine Duke, the acting head of the Division of Homeland Security (DHS) stating that the situations in Central America that prompted the issuing of Temporary Protected Status (TPS)to citizens of those countries allowing them to register and remain in the United States no longer apply. While Tillerson's letter is not determinative, it does make it easier for DHS to end the TPS program for the 57,000 Honduran citizens living in the United States with this status.
Temporary Protected Status is grantable to a country's citizens if one of three conditions are met:
- There is an on-going armed conflict such as a civil war
- There is an environmental disaster.
- Other extraordinary and temporary conditions
A person granted TPS cannot be removed from the US and can obtain permission to work and travel.
Honduras was granted TPS because of the devastation caused by hurricane Mitch, which destroyed approximately 70% of the infrastructure of Honduras in 1998. The ability of Hondurans to request TPS status was granted in January,
1999. Permission to remain under that status can be extended by 6, 12,
or 18 months by the DHS Secretary. Renewals since have continued to cite the continuing series of environmental and medical disasters in Honduras, and the lack of recovery in things like the housing market. Current permissions for Honduras run out on January 5, 2018. 60 days prior to the expiration, the DHS Secretary must either renew or announce the expiration of the status for that country. That means that today, the DHS Secretary must announce either the renewal or expiration of TPS for Honduran citizens.
Honduras sent a delegation to Washington, DC last week to work for extension of the TPS. They met with members of Congress, and members of the Executive branch, although the only named meetings were with James Nealon, former US Ambassador to Honduras and now Acting Under Secretary of the Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans of the DHS. They also met with Thomas Shannon, Under Secretary for Political Affairs at the State Department. They returned claiming optimism that the TPS would be extended.
Tillerson's recommendation that conditions supporting the granting of TPS for Central Americans and Haitians no longer exists is contradicting the Honduran authorities who felt they had more than made their case last week in Washington, DC.
The DHS statement on renewal of the TPS is due today.