Instability in Honduras Stirs Worry Among TPS Beneficiaries

Demonstrators rallied in Manhattan’s Union Square to support Salvador Nasralla, one of two presidential candidates to declare victory after Honduras’ presidential election on Nov. 26, and protest political repression and electoral fraud by the incumbent administration of Juan Orlando Hernández. (Photo and caption by Joe Catron, Creative Commons license)

The massive demonstrations carried out in a number of cities in Honduras to protest what some consider electoral fraud have increased the feeling of uncertainty among the Central American country’s immigrants in New York and other enclaves in the United States. The fear is greater among beneficiaries of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

Thousands of Hondurans filled the streets of their country in demonstrations organized by supporters of opposition leader Salvador Nasralla to reject the provisional results of the election  – which have President Juan Orlando Hernández as the frontrunner (…).

Journalist and writer Roberto Quesada, a political organizer in our area, said that his compatriots in New York and across the nation fear that the crisis in Honduras may worsen at a moment when the White House is directing its anti-immigrant policies against TPS beneficiaries.

The electoral uncertainty into which the country has fallen since last week adds to the serious issues of violence, poverty and political polarization that were already plaguing the Central American country. This is a volatile scenario for the more than 60,000 TPS beneficiaries living in the United States, of whom 3,000 reside in New York City.

“We are talking about thousands of Hondurans who would be deportable if they lose the immigration program. These are immigrants who keep the economy of Honduras afloat with their remittances. If each one of them has a family of four, then 240,000 Hondurans would lose all support. Poverty would become even worse,” said Quesada. “There is great concern. With or without a wall, people will come to the United States. We currently have 2 million unemployed; they have no option. The sights of Central America are set on migrating to the U.S.”

TPS could have been defended

According to activists, President Juan Orlando Hernández did not show the political will to negotiate and defend the TPS from Donald Trump’s administration. Quesada said that the leader could have used the military bases in Honduran territory to pressure the White House into renewing the immigration benefit.

“The negotiation mechanisms available were not exhausted,” said Quesada. “Honduras simply does not have the capacity to receive the 60,000 Hondurans who have TPS.”

Telsa Denster, a community organizer in Brooklyn, said that the social and political crisis in her country shows that failing to renew TPS and deporting its beneficiaries will not only increase immigration into the U.S. but also poverty, unemployment and other social ills existing in Honduras.

“Orlando Hernández’s administration has not been capable of solving the crisis overwhelming Honduras, despite him saying the contrary. The U.S. must protect our immigrants. There is no justification to keep them hanging in the balance, without some certainty of the future for TPS,” said Denster.

Perla Canales, TPS beneficiary and a member of union 32BJ, agreed with the activists. “The Orlando Hernández administration hid the reality in Honduras, painting it as a country of progress. I think he has not done enough for Honduran immigrants. We are on our own,” she said.

Canales, a resident of Staten Island, is afraid of returning to Honduras at a moment of social turbulence. As a mother, she fears that a civil war will aggravate the situation in her native country.

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