The Department of Homeland Security yesterday announced an 18-month extension for Hondurans and Nicaraguans who were granted temporary U.S. residence after a devastating hurricane in their homelands. The department also said it was “favorably disposed” to extend a similar program for Salvadorans.
The U.S. government originally gave temporary protected status to the Central American immigrants because they would face difficulties returning home after the damage caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and by earthquakes in El Salvador in 2001.
The protected status has allowed hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were in this country illegally at the time to get work permits. The program announced after Hurricane Mitch has been renewed four times and covers nearly 82,000 Hondurans and 4,300 Nicaraguans. It had been slated to expire in January. But the Homeland Security statement said those countries “remain unable . . . to handle adequately the return” of their citizens.