The Department of Homeland Security on Monday terminated the Temporary Protection Status designation for Nicaragua and extended it for Honduras.
The DHS extended the effective date of the designation's end for Nicaragua until Jan. 5, 2019, to "allow for an orderly transition."
"This will provide time for individuals with TPS to seek an alternative lawful immigration status in the United States, if eligible, or, if necessary, arrange for their departure," the DHS said in a statement.
Nicaragua received TPS designation months after Hurricane Mitch struck the country in 1998.
"The decision to terminate TPS for Nicaragua was made after a review of the conditions upon which the country’s original 1999 designation were based and whether those substantial but temporary conditions prevented Nicaragua from adequately handling the return of their nationals" after Hurricane Mitch, the DHS said in a statement, adding that Nicaragua's government did not request a TPS extension.
For Honduras, which also received the designation after Hurricane Mitch, Duke said the lack of "definitive information regarding conditions on the ground" prior to Hurricane Mitch and the inability to properly establish Honduras' current conditions are the primary reasons a determination could not be reached.
The DHS said it is possible the TPS designation for Honduras could end after the six-month extension.
In her decision, DHS Acting Secretary Elaine Duke "determined that additional information is necessary regarding the TPS designation for Honduras" – as such, she extended the program automatically until July 5.
There are about 57,000 Hondurans and 2,500 Nicaraguans in the United States under TPS, The Washington Post reported.
Another country faces uncertainty regarding TPS. A bipartisan bill to extend TPS for Haitian nationals has been introduced to U.S. Congress as tens of thousands face possible deportation.
The office of U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Democrat who represents Florida's 24th district, said that TPS should be extended "until Haiti has demonstrably recovered from a series of natural and manmade disasters."
The bill, which has 36 co-sponsors, would extend TPS for Haitians by 18 months.
“Haiti is enmeshed in a long and extremely challenging process of rebuilding its infrastructure and economy,” Wilson said in a statement. “It would be both cruel and heartless of the United States to unnecessarily sentence nearly 60,000 people who have been living and working in the United States to lives of uncertainty and abject despair."
The Department of Homeland Security has until Nov. 23 – Thanksgiving Day – to announce a decision for tens of thousands of Haitian TPS recipients.