- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 2, 2004

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) yesterday announced an 18-month extension of temporary protected status for nationals of Honduras and Nicaragua until July 5, 2006.

Under the extension, those who already have been granted temporary status are eligible to live and work in the United States for another 18 months.

CIS spokesman Dan Kane said there are about 81,875 nationals of Honduras and 4,309 nationals of Nicaragua who are eligible for re-registration. He said the extension is effective Jan. 5 and will remain in effect until July 5, 2006.

Nationals of Honduras and Nicaragua who have been granted temporary status must re-register for the 18-month extension during the 60-day re-registration period, which begins today and remains in effect until Jan. 3, 2005.

Mr. Kane said that in an effort to prevent potential gaps in employment authorization while eligible Hondurans and Nicaraguans wait for their temporary status re-registration applications to be processed, the agency is granting a six-month automatic extension of the expiration date to July 5, 2005.

A temporary status extension also is pending for El Salvador, which suffered damage similar to that of Honduras and Nicaragua based on a series of severe earthquakes. Mr. Kane said CIS is favorably disposed to considering an extension for El Salvador if the country conditions warrant it. The current temporary-status designation for El Salvador expires March 9, 2005.

The Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, who oversees CIS, to grant temporary status to aliens in the United States who are nationals of countries that are subject to ongoing armed conflicts, environmental disasters or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.

In January, Attorney General John Ashcroft, who had the authority over temporary- status designations prior to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, designated temporary status for Honduras and Nicaragua based on the devastation resulting from Hurricane Mitch and, later, extended the designation four times.

Mr. Kane said that because of continued reconstruction of infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Mitch, the U.S. government determined that an 18-month extension of the temporary-status designation was warranted because Honduras and Nicaragua remain unable to handle adequately the return of its nationals.

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