Late last week, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced the end of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Nepali citizens in the United States. Those from Nepal who would have been subject to deportation have been allowed to remain in the U.S. under TPS because the 2015 earthquake made deportation inhumane and dangerous. According to Nielsen:
Since the 2015 earthquake, conditions in Nepal have notably improved. Additionally, since the last review of the country’s conditions in October 2016, Nepal has made substantial progress in post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction.
The move is of a piece with the Trump Administration’s efforts to underline “temporary” in Temporary Protected Status. It has also scheduled the end of TPS for Sudan, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Haiti. The affected Nepalis now have 12 months to find a way to change or adjust to a form of lawful status in the U.S. or face deportation. On Friday, approximately 57,000 Hondurans will learn if the government will extend TPS for them. If that doesn’t happen, they’ll have to similarly change or adjust to a form of lawful status or be subject to deportation starting July 5.
The Nepali community in America received the news with outrage, in part because their assessment of conditions in Nepal vary from those reported by Nielsen. According to Pabitra Khati Benjamin, executive director of Adhikaar, a Nepali-American advocacy organization:
It is clear that in the three years since the earthquake, Nepal is still very much in recovery mode. Less than 13.3 percent of the homes affected have been rebuilt. Yes, the country is functioning, but that is in part as a result of TPS holders sending money back home to rebuild.
For the Nepali and anyone else currently in the United States under TPS, it is important to see an experienced immigration attorney to explore possible options for relief. The administration’s anti-immigrant rhetoric makes it hard to count on last minute reprieves and extensions.
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