The White House wants to end TPS for Nicaraguans. Two Miami lawmakers want to keep it

Kids deliver letters to Rubio’s office pleading a TPS extension

Leah Cassayo, 12, reads a letter outside of Sen. Marco Rubio’s office in Doral asking him to pass a Clean Dream Act and protect families with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) on Nov. 22, 2017.

Leah Cassayo, 12, reads a letter outside of Sen. Marco Rubio’s office in Doral asking him to pass a Clean Dream Act and protect families with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) on Nov. 22, 2017.

About 5,300 Nicaraguans in the U.S. are currently relying on a court decision to continue working and living legally in the United States after the Trump administration announced that it wants to end Nicaragua’s Temporary Protected Status.

Two Miami lawmakers are trying to end the uncertainty.

Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala introduced a bill Tuesday that would provide TPS to Nicaraguan nationals already in the United States, a population concentrated in South Florida.

Diaz-Balart and Shalala argued that recent violence related to President Daniel Ortega’s decision to cut government benefits and human rights concerns are justification to extend a program that’s been in place since 1999 and extended by presidents from both parties ever since.

“The Nicaraguan people are demanding free, fair, multiparty elections and a government free of crime and corruption that respects basic human rights and liberties,” Diaz-Balart said. “Until that happens, I strongly support the Trump administration’s demonstrations of strong solidarity with the Nicaraguan people through robust sanctions against those who corrupt Nicaragua’s democratic institutions or perpetrate human rights abuses. In addition, we also must demonstrate our solidarity with the Nicaraguan people by extending protection to those Nicaraguans who have found a safe haven in the United States.“

Lawmakers from both parties in South Florida and senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott are generally supportive of extending TPS in countries like Nicaragua, Haiti, Honduras and El Salvador due to political and economic instability in those countries, and expanding it to Venezuela. The Trump administration has said it’s considering TPS for Venezuela, even though some members of the White House are opposed to programs that expand immigration.

“Nicaraguans are facing a crisis from Ortega’s systemic human rights violations and assault on democratic institutions that have sparked protests and left hundreds dead this past year,” Shalala said. “Extending TPS for Nicaraguans is the right thing to do, especially as the Ortega regime escalates its human-rights abuses. I’m proud to work with Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart on this important bipartisan legislation, and I remain committed in my effort to give TPS status to Venezuelans and extend status to those from El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, and other groups currently designated for TPS.”

The legislation from Diaz-Balart and Shalala comes as the Trump administration brands Nicaragua as one of the three countries that make up the “Trokia of Tyranny,” along with Venezuela and Cuba. Last month, the Treasury Department announced sanctions against Ortega’s son and vice president, along with Nicaraguan bank BanCorp, accusing them of laundering money for personal gain.

“President Ortega, Vice President [Rosario] Murillo, and members of their inner circle continue to engage in blatant corruption, violence and violations of basic human rights,” said Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “The corrupt Ortega regime has ignored the Nicaraguan people’s calls for reform, including the freeing of all political prisoners, and early transparent elections.”