By Ted Hesson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States will extend deportation relief and work permits through 2025 for more than 300,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Nepal but will not expand the program to cover additional people, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on Tuesday.
The move by President Joe Biden’s administration maintains the status quo and stops short of a broader expansion of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program supported by some Democrats and immigrant advocates who say more pathways are needed for people to live and work legally in the United States.
Former President Donald Trump, a Republican and immigration hardliner seeking his party’s nomination in 2024, sought to end TPS for the four countries and others during his tenure, but his effort was rebuffed by U.S. courts. Biden’s Democratic administration is rescinding Trump’s earlier decisions as part of the process of extending the relief for immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Nepal.
TPS allows people who cannot return to their home countries due to natural disasters, armed conflict or other extraordinary measures to remain in the United States and obtain work permits. Designations typically last six to 18 months but can be renewed indefinitely. Some TPS designations have been in place for decades, but they do not lead to permanent U.S. status.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement that the extensions would offer “continued safety and protection” to people from those countries already eligible for the program.
The latest decision by the Biden administration will allow TPS renewals for 239,000 Salvadorans who have resided in the U.S. since 2001. Some 76,000 Hondurans and 4,000 Nicaraguans in the U.S. since 1998 are eligible, along with 14,500 Nepalese in the country since 2015.
Hundreds of thousands of immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua living in the U.S. illegally will not be covered by the TPS extension since they arrived after the cutoff dates.
Some Democrats, including New York City Mayor Eric Adams, have pressed the Biden administration to expand access to work permits for newly arrived migrants, saying it will reduce the strain on local governments receiving people who have recently crossed the U.S.-Mexico border.
(Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington; Editing by Mica Rosenberg, Aurora Ellis, Alexandra Hudson)