United States President Donald Trump will announce Friday if the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) visa program for Honduran immigrants will be extended or canceled, as it has already happened with El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Liberia and Nepal.
The TPS visa program was created in 1990 to allow immigrants, who are unable to safely return to their home countries due to ongoing armed conflicts or natural disasters, to reside in the U.S. and access work authorizations every 18 months.
The program first went into effect for Hondurans in 1999, after the country was devastated by hurricane Mitch which caused the deaths of thousands, destroyed homes and crops. Today there are 56,000 Hondurans protected from deportation by TPS who left Honduras under threat of violence and death by drug cartels, mining companies and the military.
Since the 2009 coup against democratically-elected President Juan Manuel Zelaya, which ushered in the pro-business, authoritarian National party, Honduras has ranked as one of the most dangerous countries in the world.
Just months after the coup the World Bank gave a US$30 million loan to palm oil processing and food company Dinant. The company has long-standing ties with violent land conflicts in the northern Aguan Valley region, where over 100 campesino leaders have been murdered as they resisted the land grab.
Prior to the coup, campesino mobilization successfully pressured former President Zelaya to launch a commission to investigate land conflicts, with the potential of putting agrarian reform back on the political agenda.
The latest episode of political violence began with the 2017 Honduran elections. The results gave incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez a victory contested by the opposition, social movements, and a significant part of the population, who mobilized against what they believe is electoral fraud.
During the protests led by the Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship and other social sectors at least 36 people were killed by state security forces.
In January 2018 Santos Alvarado, member of the main opposition party LIBRE and representative of the Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship, was shot down by two unidentified men in his home.
In this context a group of 53 Democratic legislators issued a call for the TPS to be extended for Hondurans. If the Trump administration decides otherwise 56,000 Hondurans will have to return to a country subsumed in violence and impunity.