Trump Administration Ends Special Protection Status for Nepalese Immigrants

The decision, which will allow Nepali immigrants a grace period to stay in the United States until June next year, has been called "spiteful" by human rights activists.


The Donald Trump administration is set to end special protection for an estimated 9,000 Nepalese immigrants living in the United States, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on April 26. The administrations is giving them a grace period until June 24, 2019 to find a way to stay in the country legally or leave for their home country of Nepal, the Associated Press reported.

The special protection was granted to Nepalese immigrants following the April 2015 earthquake that killed more than 8,000 people and left 3.5 million homeless in the Himalayan nation. Under the fag end of the Obama administration, the protection to them was extended for another 18 months in October 2016.

A review of conditions in Nepal showed that the protections were no longer required, the report cited DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen as saying. “The disruption of living conditions in Nepal from the April 2015 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks that served as the basis for its Temporary Protection Status designation have decreased to a degree that they should no longer be regarded as substantial,” DHS said, according to the report.

The Temporary Protected Status was put in place in the United States in 1990 to provide a safe haven for citizens of countries experiencing humanitarian crisis such as violent conflict, environmental disasters, or epidemics that would prevent nationals from returning safely. The status protects several thousand people from 10 countries and also includes authorization for them to work and travel for a specific period.

The Trump administration has ended the protections for several countries, including El Salvador, Nicaragua, Sudan and Haiti in the recent months. The DHS will be taking a call in May whether to extend the deadline for an estimated 57,000 Hondurans living in the United States.

The Nepalese community is concentrated in New York and the Dallas-Fort Worth area, with 9,000 immigrants living in America in 2015, according to Pew Research Center. The community also lives in Washington, San Francisco, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Columbus in Ohio.

The new decision has left immigrants and activists angry. “Trump’s move is truly spiteful towards Nepali Americans. After the devastating earthquake that literally ripped their home to pieces, thousands of Nepalis have successfully remade their lives in our New York, becoming a key piece of the fabric of our communities. America will not be greater or safer by forcing them to leave, tearing them out of our economy and sending them home to a still unstable country,” Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said in a statement when talks of ending the status were still on. Nepalese immigrants held a vigil in New York on April 25, remembering the devastating earthquake that struck their nation in 2015.

“This White House has yet again turned its back on vulnerable people that our nation pledged to protect,” Amanda Baran of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center said in a statement, AP reported. “Terminating Temporary Protected Status for our Nepali brothers and sisters and forcing their return to a country still recovering from a devastating earthquake is unfounded and heartless.”

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