The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (ICE) announced last week that Hondurans with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) have between June 5 and Aug. 6 - 60 days - to re-register in order to stay in the program until its expiration Jan. 5, 2020.
In order to help out the some 56,000 Honduran TPS recipients in the United States, the country’s consulate in Atlanta has brought on a local law office - Vazquez & Servi, P.C. - to help them process their paperwork, for free.
Barbara Vazquez, owner and firm partner of Vazquez & Servi, tells TeleSUR that the "need for reliable and current information and advice is great." Her office has been able to help about 25 to 30 people during each two-hour block.
In a Facebook video, Vazquez says "we know we are in a completely anti-immigration climate under this administration."
Each week the immigration law firm is available to consult with Honduran TPS members at the consulate on Wednesdays and Fridays from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM local time.
TPS was granted to Hondurans in 1999 after Hurricane Mitch ravaged the country, as were victims of the storm in Nicaragua. The United States provides the status to citizens of other countries where there is "ongoing armed conflict or environmental disaster" and allows them work permits. However, since taking office President Donald Trump has set to rescind TPS for at least six of the 10 currently benefiting countries, including El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti, Nepal, and Sudan.
Vasquez writes to TeleSUR in an email, "The cancellation of TPS for Honduras and other Central American countries is disconcerting and disheartening given that those protected by TPS have been in this country for decades, (and) have contributed to the U.S. economy through their hard work and established business."
The immigration expert adds, "They have children born in this country who are the fabric of our melting pot."
The Atlanta law firm was asked to help in the TPS matter by the city’s Honduran consulate general, Maria Fernanda Rivera. In an interview with CNN En Español, Rivera said that ending TPS for Hondurans was a humanitarian crisis who may be forced to leave the county where they have built their lives and their families over the past two decades.
Vasquez says by email that, "in general, people are scared about the uncertainty of their future and their children’s future upon expiration of TPS." Reassuringly the lawyer says that "many individuals who may qualify to pursue permanent resident status."
Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernandez was in the United States on Friday trying to lobby for legislation that would help the longtime U.S. residents from his country to gain permanent legal status. In a tweet from last week the head of state said, "We're happy to start this tour with a lot of expectations, with the spirit to take on topics that are fundamental to Honduras and in my judgement, (our) biggest interest with the U.S.: the legalization of our TPS protected compatriots."
When the Trump administration announced in May that it was ending TPS for Hondurans, Hernandez pledge to "open new consulates" in several U.S. cities specifically to provide legal help to TPS beneficiaries from the Central American country.