Florida Congressional Reps Call for Biden Administration to Offer TPS for Nicaraguans

At the end of last week, members of the Florida congressional delegation sent a letter to President Joe Biden and U.S. Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas “calling upon the Department to redesignate and extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Nicaraguans fleeing the oppressive Ortega regime.”

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., who helped lead the letter, noted that more than 60,000 Nicaraguans in the U.S. could face punishment by the Ortega regime if returned to Nicaragua.

“I am deeply concerned for members of Florida’s vibrant Nicaraguan community at risk of deportation if Temporary Protected Status is not extended,” said Crist on Friday. “The dictator Daniel Ortega’s repressive socialist regime poses a threat to the over 60,000 Nicaraguans living in the United States, and their forced repatriation would put them at high risk of political persecution, arrest, and violence. Much like Florida’s freedom-loving Venezuelan and Cuban communities, we must stand by our Nicaraguan brothers and sisters who want freedom and safety from persecution. ¡Viva Nicaragua libre!”

Other members of the Florida delegation who signed the letter include U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., Shelia Cherfilus-McCormick, D-Fla., Stephanie Murphy. D-Fla., Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., Darren Soto, D-Fla., Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and Frederica Wilson, D-Fla.

“In light of the importance to the United States of fostering democratic processes and institutions in Nicaragua to help the Nicaraguan people achieve their aspirations for democracy and given the suppression of human rights and democracy in Nicaragua, I am asking that the Department of Homeland Security extend TPS for Nicaraguans who are suffering under the Ortega regime,” said Cherfilus-McCormick. “The repressive and abusive acts of the Ortega government and those who support it should compel the United States to act.”

The Florida Immigrant Coalition, Miami Freedom Project, American Friends Service Committee, Immigrant Action Alliance, Immigration Hub, Farmworkers Association of Florida, Nicaragua American Human Rights Alliance, Hope CommUnity Center and Alianza Americas all backed the letter which is included below.

Dear Mr. President and Secretary Mayorkas:

We write to urgently request your Administration redesignate and extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Nicaragua. Florida is home to a vibrant community of Nicaraguans many of whom are undocumented and have resided in the U.S. for years while unrest in Nicaragua continues. The recent expiration of Nicaragua’s TPS designation places more than 4,500 Nicaraguans that fled the destruction of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, and the more than 60,000 Nicaraguans fleeing repression of the Daniel Ortega regime at grave risk if they are forcibly repatriated.

Since the initial designation in 1998, conditions in Nicaragua continue to deteriorate. The combined effect of the Ortega regime’s socio-political oppression, failed response to the COVID pandemic, and back-to-back hurricanes in early 2020 crippled economic opportunity of the already second-poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. According to the World Bank, the widespread instability of these crises between 2018 and 2020 drove an almost 9% loss in Gross Domestic Product and reduced family incomes in 44 percent of households by mid-2021.

Recent action by Daniel Ortega and his socialist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) Party to jail and torture political opposition during the 2021 election demonstrate their commitment to violence and repression of the Nicaraguan People, while justice eludes the families of up to 600 peaceful protesters murdered by the regime in 2018. Since then, Ortega further solidified his dictatorial rule by systematically dismantling all democratic processes of government, leaving Nicaragua unsafe for the nearly 65,000 Nicaraguans currently seeking refuge in the United States.

In April 2022, repression worsened when Ortega-controlled parliamentary commissions put forward criminal legislation to tighten penalties and subject protesters and political challengers to additional repressive measures such as confiscation of assets. Parliament has also shut down or expelled at least 454 human rights, education, medical, professional and development organizations since November 2018. Academic freedom and the autonomy of universities are also threatened. At least 12 institutions are now under state control after their legal status was arbitrarily canceled.

Congress gave the administration the power to grant Temporary Protected Status to provide humanitarian relief to citizens whose countries were suffering from protracted conflict. Given the growing political, economic, and human rights crises, we strongly urge you to redesignate and extend the original 1998 TPS designation and to protect tens of thousands of Nicaraguan men, women, and children who would face great risk to their safety should they return to Nicaragua at this time. We further call on you to take all actions within your authority to support the Nicaraguan diaspora whether located here in the U.S., still trapped in Nicaragua, or struggling to find their place abroad.

Thank you for your consideration.

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