The Obama administration just granted another 18-month extension of the Temporary Protection Status for Hondurans and Nicaraguans who've been displaced from their home countries by a hurricane that happened 18 years ago.
In its memo, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services blamed Hurricane Mitch, which struck Honduras and Nicaragua in October of 1998, as a good enough reason to extend this supposedly temporary status for thousands of Hondurans and Nicaraguans who’ve been living in the United States under TPS for the last nearly two decades. According to the agency, this is the 13th TPS extension for the two nations as a result of the ’98 storm.
From the USCIS Federal Registrar notice for Honduras:
Based on the reviews and after consulting with DOS, the Secretary has determined that an 18-month extension is warranted because conditions in Honduras supporting its designation for TPS persist. Hurricane Mitch and subsequent environmental disasters have substantially disrupted living conditions in Honduras, such that Honduras remains unable, temporarily, to adequately handle the return of its nationals.
After 18 years.
But Hurricane Mitch isn’t the only disaster that’s apparently keeping the roughly 61,000 TPS-protected Hondurans currently living in the United States from returning to their own country. USCIS notes the Central American nation has been rendered nearly uninhabitable due to a “dramatic increase in mosquito-born diseases,” a “prolonged regional drought,” “food insecurity,” a “coffee rust epidemic” and, of course, “climate fluctuations” in the form of rain and…well, not rain.
Likewise, the government also conveniently called out “climate change” as a reason for continually extending TPS status to Nicaraguans, explaining the country has been plagued by everything under the sun from “heavy rains, flooding and earthquakes” to infrastructure problems, poverty, government failure, volcanic eruptions and, of course, that pesky coffee rust problem.
But despite having renewed Hondurans’ and Nicaraguans’ TPS status without fail for the past 18 years, the federal government insists this supposed temporary designation is, in fact, temporary.
“There continues to be a substantial, but temporary, disruption in living conditions in Honduras as a result of an environmental disaster,” USCIS stated.
The TPS program was originally designed to give relief to aliens already in the United States who couldn't return to their home countries because of an extreme conflict, disaster, or other situation that made it unsafe for them to go home. But despite its name, there doesn’t seem to be anything “temporary” about a Temporary Protection Status.
Several thousand Liberians have held one since a civil war broke out in their country in 1991, making it the longest standing TPS designation since the policy was first created in 1990.
About 200,000 Salvadorians have enjoyed TPS status in America since a 2001 earthquake, which has been routinely blamed at each 18-month extension. About 50,000 Hatians have been protected under TPS since the earthquake in 2010, including thousands who arrived in the United States in the year after the disaster.
On top of pretty much being guaranteed they'll never have to leave the United States, TPS-protected aliens are eligible for a work permit, Social Security number, driver’s license, and access to a slew of taxpayer-funded welfare benefits.