In a statement issued Monday night, the Department of Homeland Security said that Nicaraguans with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) have until January 5, 2019 in order to return home or seek a permanent immigration status.
Countries like Honduras and El Salvador have previously asked the Trump administration to extend the special protected status to its citizens. The White House also delayed a decision on TPS for Honduran immigrants, in a move that could seriously impact the lives of tens of thousands of people.
For the 2,500 Nicaraguan immigrants now protected by TPS, this move will be dire as these people have built lives in the United States and their native country has a great deal of instability. Nicaraguans' and Hondurans' work authorization cards were set to expire on January 5, 2018.
Trump officials are expected to issue decisions on the future of TPS for 50,000 Haitians in November and 200,000 Salvadorans in January.
"We are looking at the fact that temporary protected status means temporary, and it has not been temporary for many years", DHS spokesman David Lapan said earlier this month.
Thousands of Nicaraguans and tens of thousands of Hondurans have been living in the USA for nearly 20 years thanks to the TPS programme.
Ms Duke said she recognised "the difficulty facing citizens of Nicaragua - and potentially citizens of other countries - who have received TPS designation for close to two decades" and called on the US Congress "to enact a permanent solution for this inherently temporary programme".
Most of the TPS migrants arrived in the United States without legal papers but were allowed to stay and work because of instability in their home countries. "That is for Congress to ensure that TPS is not "inherently" a temporary program, but is actually temporary, as the T in its name indicates", responded Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration (FAIR). At tomorrow's confirmation hearing, Senators will have an opportunity to seek clarity from Nielsen about the direction the department will take on TPS and other immigration matters.
"When this administration came into office they came wanting to address the issue of the undocumented immigrants".
In May, TPS for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone expired.
"These are people who have had to go to the Department of Homeland security every 18 months, and have shown their papers, their information, their records, have paid to be renewed. As a mother, I am concerned for my family's well-being", she said.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Honduras James (Jim) D. Nealon also urged the Trump administration to extend TPS, saying, "it makes no sense to send [citizens of Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador] back to their country of origin".