- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 26, 2018

Some 9,000 Nepalese who’ve been living in the U.S. under special protections since a 2015 earthquake in their home country will have to leave within a year, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced Thursday.

Ms. Neilsen said the country has recovered from the earthquake and is now able to take back its citizens, so there’s no longer a justification under the law for them to continue to have special Temporary Protected Status in the U.S.

She did grant a 12-month grace period to give those who’ve been here a chance to arrange their affairs and to give Nepal more time for final preparations to accept back its citizens.

“The secretary determined that the disruption of living conditions in Nepal from the April 2015 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks that served as the basis for its TPS designation have decreased to a degree that they should no longer be regarded as substantial, and Nepal can now adequately manage the return of its nationals,” the department said. “Thus, as required under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated.”

Nepal is the latest country to have its TPS status brought to an end by the Trump administration, and immigrant-rights activists have vehemently objected, calling it part of an anti-immigrant push.

Mr. Trump’s aides, however, have said they’re following the laws that past administrations of both parties had stretched beyond their meaning by routinely granting extensions, rather than doing a thorough examination of conditions on the ground.

Several countries are nearing two decades of status.

The Trump administration has now announced an end to five different countries’ TPS — though in each case a grace period for departure has also been granted.

TPS is granted to people who are living in the U.S. at a time of a natural disaster, war or other crisis in their home countries, and who don’t already have a permanent status. It covers illegal immigrants and temporary visitors who would have become illegal immigrants if they’d stayed beyond their visas to avoid going back home.

Immigrant-rights activists argue TPS is equivalent to a promise of immigration, and say once it’s granted, those people should be allowed to stay.

“After the devastating earthquake that literally ripped their home to pieces, thousands of Nepalis have successfully remade their lives in our New York, becoming a key piece of the fabric of our communities,” said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “America will not be greater or safer by forcing them to leave, tearing them out of our economy and sending them home to a still unstable country.”

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