KATHMANDU, April 26: The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is preparing to cancel the temporary residency permits of about 9,000 immigrants from Nepal, according to a report published by the Washington Post. This comes as the latest move of the Trump administration to expel foreigners living in the US with some form of provisional status.
The report published on Tuesday stated that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is planning to give the Nepalis a one-year grace period to prepare for their departure, but they would face deportation after June 24, 2019.
As humanitarian gesture, Nepali nationals living in the US were given temporary protected status (TPS) that allowed them to remain the in the US legally after a major earthquake hit Nepal on April 25, 2015. The TPS designation was created by US Congress in 1990 to avoid sending foreigners back to nations destabilized by natural disasters, armed conflict and other catastrophes.
“Immigration hard-liners in the Trump administration have pushed to eliminate TPS protections whenever possible. In recent months DHS has canceled the residency permits of 200,000 Salvadorans, 50,000 Haitians and a smaller number of Nicaraguans and Sudanese,” said the Washington Post report.
Trump officials, according to the report, say the TPS designation was never intended to afford long-term residency to foreigners who may have entered the country unlawfully or otherwise lack legal status. The law requires DHS to obtain input from the State Department about the current conditions in countries with a TPS designation before making a decision to cancel those protections.
“We will continue to determine each country's TPS status on a country-by-country basis,” the report quoted Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen as saying in his January statement, following her decision to extend TPS for about 6,000 Syrians, whose homeland has been shattered by war.
Nearly 15,000 Nepali migrants received TPS status after the 2015 quake. However, only about 9,000 remain in the country, mostly in the New York City area, with that status, according to estimates by the Congressional Research Service.
Although a few Nepali organizations based in the US had lobbied for the extension of the TPS, the decision to extend or cancel TPS for the Nepalis has generated considerably less attention than for other groups in the US, the report said.
DHS officials said Nielsen had not yet signed off on the Nepal decision, but the internal documents indicate the agency is preparing to make its announcement in coming days. The DHS secretary is required to make a decision 60 days in advance of the TPS expiration date. In Nepal's case, that deadline falls on the anniversary of the earthquake, which is Wednesday.