The earthquake killed almost 9,000 and injured 22,000 more, according to Nepal's government. But a disaster that caused so much devastation created opportunity for Nepalese citizens like Regmi, who were awarded a humanitarian protection known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS). TPS affords residency and work permits to foreigners in the U.S. whose home countries become unsafe following a natural or man-made disaster.
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For Regmi, who was previously undocumented, this allowed her to open her own nail salon in Brooklyn, New York. The money she earned helped pay for the estimated $30,000 in repairs for her family's home in Nepal, she says.
Now, her future is once more uncertain. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced last week it would terminate the TPS designation for Nepal, adding it to a growing list of countries that are losing the protective status. Kirstjen Nielsen, the Homeland Security secretary, said "conditions in Nepal have notably improved" and gave the nearly 9,000 Nepalese TPS recipients still in the country 12 months to leave the U.S., according to The Washington Post.
Previously, DHS ended the TPS designations for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan. On Friday, DHS announced it was ending protections for nearly 57,000 Hondurans, giving them 18 months to leave the U.S. Citizens of those five countries, as well as Nepal, make up the vast majority of the United States' more than 320,000 TPS recipients. The Trump administration is also winding down a similar program benefiting 4,000 Liberians.
Supporters of president's hard-line immigration policies say that the administration is taking the right approach to TPS, while immigrant advocates contend that the decisions made under Trump have more to do with ideology and politics than they do with a fair evaluation of living conditions.
"What's happening is the Trump administration is taking seriously the determination of Congress that these designations should be temporary and that when conditions have recovered in these countries, that people should be expected to return home,” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based think tank that advocates for stricter legal and illegal immigration policies.
Vaughan said that TPS "has acted like a de facto amnesty for people who have arrived in the country illegally."