April 25, 2018

Menendez, Kaine, Cardin Lead Democrats in Encouraging Trump Administration to Extend Temporary Protected Status for Honduras

WASHINGTONU.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and 22 Democratic Senators today sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan urging them to extend Temporary Protected Status for Honduran Nationals, which is set to expire on July 5, 2018.  

“Ending TPS for Hondurans would force more than 86,031 individuals to go back to a country with severe security challenges. We are also concerned that the Honduran government lacks the capacity to facilitate their return, which would make it difficult to ensure their protection,” wrote the Senators.  “More importantly, we are extremely concerned about the more than 53,500 U.S. born children who would have to accompany their TPS beneficiary parents and who would be vulnerable to recruitment by gangs in Honduras.”

The Senators noted that in recent years, the United States has increased cooperation with Central American governments, including the Honduran government, in order to address the underlying factors driving migration in the region. Through foreign assistance and diplomatic engagement, the United States has made significant investments to support security, economic development and stability in Central America. The Senators concluded a decision by the Trump Administration to end TPS designation for Honduras would “threaten the very stability we seek to achieve in Central America and would undermine our foreign policy objectives there.”

Joining the senators in sending the letter were: Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Dick Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Maize Hirono (D-Hawaii), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

The Honorable Kirstjen Nielsen                                The Honorable John Sullivan                       

Secretary of Homeland Security                               Acting Secretary of State

U.S. Department of Homeland Security                     U.S. Department of State

3801 Nebraska Avenue NW                                      2201 C St. NW

Washington, DC 20016                                            Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Nielsen and Acting Secretary Sullivan:

We write to urge you to extend the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Honduras, which is set to expire on July 5, 2018. Since its inception, TPS has permitted the United States to offer humanitarian protection to foreign nationals who are unable to return to the dire conditions in their homeland.

In considering the extension of TPS designation for Honduras, we encourage you to consider the unique conditions in the country, which provide a clear basis for TPS extension in accordance with the law. Although TPS was initially made available for Hondurans after Hurricane Mitch ravaged the country in 1998, successive Republican and Democratic administrations have considered its lasting effects as well as subsequent security challenges. 

In 2016, the people of Honduras were victims of 5,150 murders, a rate of approximately 59 murders per 100,000 people – one of the highest in the world.[1] In addition, Honduras has one of the highest rates of femicide in the world,[2] and according to the Center for Women’s Rights, a woman was murdered every 14 hours in 2012.[3]  Hondurans face threats from street gangs, which are widespread and prey on small businesses and families through extortion. Endemic corruption and weak rule of law fuel impunity and exacerbate the security challenges. Beyond the epidemic levels of violence, more than two thirds of the Honduran population live in poverty and, in rural areas, 20 percent of Hondurans live on less than $2 a day.[4]

Ending TPS for Hondurans would force more than 86,031 individuals to go back to a country with severe security challenges. We are also concerned that the Honduran government lacks the capacity to facilitate their return, which would make it difficult to ensure their protection. More importantly, we are extremely concerned about the more than 53,500[5] U.S. born children who would have to accompany their TPS beneficiary parents and who would be vulnerable to recruitment by gangs in Honduras.

In recent years, the United States has increased cooperation with Central American governments, including the Honduran government, in order to address the underlying factors driving migration in the region. Through foreign assistance and diplomatic engagement, the United States has made significant investments to support security, economic development and stability in Central America. A decision to end TPS designation for Honduras would threaten the very stability we seek to achieve in Central America and would undermine our foreign policy objectives there. 

In closing, we urge you to consider the critical conditions in Honduras and the destabilizing effects that terminating this TPS designation would entail. Thank you for your consideration of this important issue. We look forward to your response.

###



[1] https://www.osac.gov/pages/ContentReportDetails.aspx?cid=21167

[2] http://abcnews.go.com/International/men-women-honduras-inside-dangerous-places-earth-woman/story?id=47135328

[3] http://derechosdelamujer.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Observatorio-Violencia-contra-las-mujeres-hondurenas.pdf

[4] http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/honduras/overview

[5] https://cdn.americanprogress.org/content/uploads/2017/10/19125633/101717_TPSFactsheet-USA.pdf

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