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More than a hundred Hondurans marched on Tuesday through downtown Washington and rallied in front of the White House to demand from U.S. President Joe Biden a new Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the Central American country.
“This is a demonstration of the support of the Central American communities for a new TPS,” Juan Flores, president of the September 15 Foundation, which organized the march, attended by Hondurans from several states, told the demonstrators.
“Let the voice of migrants be heard, in one heart, forced to come to Washington, but this march should be in Honduras in protest against the corrupt political class,” he added.
According to data from the Pew Center, some 79,000 Hondurans are currently covered by the “old” TPS, which was established in 1998 and is extended until next October 4 while a court dispute over the cancellation of the program decided by the previous president, Donald Trump, is resolved.
TPS is an immigration program created in 1990 under which the United States grants temporary and extraordinary permits to nationals of countries affected by war or natural disasters to reside and work in the United States.
For decades, these permits were automatically renewed for 18-month periods, but the Trump administration reevaluated the conditions that justified their granting and decided to cancel them.
Some of the demonstrators, who marched from the Washington Monument to the White House, also protested against Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, accused of ties to a drug trafficker now on trial in New York.
“Step aside (Hernandez), have dignity, show up in New York,” said one protester.
The vice president of the September 15 Foundation, Maybelle Castillo, said her country “is in worse conditions than when TPS was granted. There have been two hurricanes, a pandemic and a total political crisis in which our country finds itself.”
“We were forced to migrate to the last hope, the United States,” added the activist, who also complained about corruption.
For Flores and the hundreds of Hondurans who arrived from places like Orlando (Florida), Houston (Texas), Sacramento (California) and Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), a new TPS is essential because Honduras “does not offer conditions” to be able to return.
President Hernandez traveled last December to Washington, where he asked for the extension of the current TPS, which only covers about 44,000 Hondurans.