Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala suffered significant damage from two category 4 hurricanes - Iota and Eta - last month. High winds and heavy rains caused floods, landslides, and major destruction to crops and infrastructure.
There is now danger of increased coronavirus spread for the tens of thousands who fled to crowded government shelters. Extreme poverty is expected to follow, CNN reports.
Nicaraguan nationals also gained extended protections from the Department of Homeland Security, while the Guatemalan government has asked for protections for its citizens.
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández and other leaders visited the U.S. to request the policy changes for Hondurans.
Hernández said extending TPS would allow Hondurans affected by the disasters to take refuge in the U.S. and avoid burdening the country's recovery by increasing returnees or reducing the flow of money from abroad.
“Imagine someone who lost everything, his house, his source of income, who feels hopeless and believes that there’s nothing left for him,” he told the Washington Post Dec. 4. “And then he has a relative (in the United States) who says: ‘Come here.’”
Hernandez said the storms “collapsed” the agriculture industry in the Sula Valley, making Honduras even more dependent on remittances sent home from nationals living abroad.
The return of Hondurans to their country would have a “double negative effect,” he said.
“The United States would lose a labor force and a very important tax contribution, but also in Honduras we would see the impact of their not being able to send remittances.”
Hernandez and other leading Honduran officials visited Washington last week seeking assistance packages from the World Bank and the U.S. government, among others. Both Honduras and Guatemala are seeking assistance from the U.N. Green Climate Fund. Hernandez said the funds are “bureaucratic and difficult to access.”
Hernandez saw a link between severe hurricanes and climate change, arguing that this means wealthier countries with high greenhouse gas emissions have some responsibility.
Temporary protection status extensions were also granted this week to nationals of El Salvador, Haiti, Nepal, and Sudan.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
The Trump administration has opposed extending the protected status on several previous occasions. Hundreds of thousands of migrants were scheduled to be expelled in March, Reuters reports.
In June 2020 the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops again asked Congress to advance a bill to help immigrants, including those with temporary protective status, gain a path to citizenship.
Such individuals are “essential to our communities, our Church and our country,” Bishop Mario Dorsonville, an auxiliary bishop of Washington and chair of the U.S. bishops' immigration committee, said June 4.
The lack of certainty that such migrants face is a particular stress during the coronavirus pandemic, he said, as many of them work in health care or other sectors that may expose them to the virus. Many temporary protection status holders and other immigrants are “on the front lines providing essential work for our country in health care, food supply, and transportation.”
Presumptive President-Elect Joe Biden has pledged that he will protect those enrolled in the temporary protection status program.