For all of his bombast, President Donald Trump’s assault on immigrants has seen more than its fair share of defeats.
His Muslim travel ban continues to be held-up in the courts. His clumsy attempt to suffocate the Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) and blame Democrats for its demise has been overturned by a federal judge. And his long promised “big, beautiful wall” along the southern border is no closer to being designed, funded, or built than it was when he first floated the ludicrous idea during the campaign.
These high profile setbacks haven’t deterred him or the xenophobic zealots in his senior staff from continuing to attack immigrants on twitter and in speeches. Nor has it slowed down their legislative assault, either. Very quietly, the Trump Administration is taking an ax to any and all policies they can find that in any way benefit immigrants and refugees, particularly those from what the president infamously referred to as ‘shithole countries.’
The ax was out again on Friday, as they announced that they were ending a program for refugees from Honduras that allowed them to stay in the United States legally. 57,000 Hondurans fled north after a deadly hurricane decimated the country in 1999 and were permitted to stay here under what’s known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
Recovery from the hurricane has been slow, and the crime rate in Honduras has skyrocketed. Those and other factors have compelled U.S. officials in previous administrations to keep TPS in place for these refugees.
But not the Trump administration. His Department of Homeland Security’s decision Friday starts the clock for Hondurans here under TPS, who now have until January 5th, 2020 to either attain legal status to stay here in the United States, or return home.
Nearly 450,000 immigrants from 10 countries are here legally in the United States under TPS, including El Salvador, Haiti, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan. These are nations that have been crippled by natural disasters, outbreaks of civil war, and other spikes in violence, exactly the kinds of circumstances TPS was designed to accommodate.
One by one, Trump has canceled TPS for nearly all of those refugees. But the problem isn’t solved, not by a long shot.
Daniel Sharp, a lawyer for the Central American Resource Center in Los Angeles, told CBS News that most of these immigrants have been here for two decades or more, and many own homes and have American born children.
“People don’t want to go back to being undocumented,” he said, “but I don’t think you are going to see a ton of people returning to their countries of origin.”
The big question is whether the U.S. government will put immigrants into deportation proceedings once the status ends, Sharp said. That could clog up an already overwhelmed immigration court system and many immigrants may qualify for green cards under a special program for those who have lived in the country a long time, he said.
This latest scapegoating of Hondurans is just another pathetic attempt by Trump to bully his alt-right agenda into existence and keep his hard core supporters appeased. He’s going to need their support if and when Robert Mueller’s investigation leads to impeachment proceedings, and he’ll pull every string he can to keep the red meat flowing to the alt-right.
Is America great again, yet?