Elliot Spagat, Associated Press, June 13, 2023
The Biden administration said Tuesday that it will extend legal status by 18 months for more than 300,000 people from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Nepal, disappointing some advocates and members of Congress who sought a more generous offer.
The extensions provide “continued safety and protection” for those already legally in the U.S. on Temporary Protected Status, which is due to end soon under Trump-era decisions, said U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
While the decision benefits an estimated 334,000 people from the four countries, including 239,000 from El Salvador, some had hoped for a far more sweeping gesture including expanded eligibility for more recent arrivals from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who strongly pressed the White House for extensions, applauded the step but added it “simply does not go far enough” and suggested it “may have been driven in part by political calculations instead of sound policy rationale and the conditions in each country.”
The administration has aggressively used TPS, a 1990 law that allows people already in the United States to remain in 18-month increments if the Homeland Security secretary determines that natural disasters or civil strife prevent them from safely returning home.
Under Biden’s watch, the number of people eligible has soared more than 70% to nearly 1 million people by December, reversing a Trump-era trend, according to an analysis by the Cato Institute, which advocates for more immigration. TPS encompasses 15 countries, including Venezuelan and Ukraine, up from 10.
The extensions announced Tuesday will apply to about 239,000 El Salvadorans through March 9, 2025, about 76,000 Hondurans through July 5, 2025, about 14,500 Nepalese through June 24, 2025 and about 4,000 Nicaraguans through July 5, 2025.
Advocates also pushed to include Guatemala, whose people have never been eligible for TPS.