They’ve lived here legally for decades. They could be pushed out in 6 months.

For nearly 20 years, since a 1998 hurricane, the US government has allowed tens of thousands of Honduran immigrants to stay and work in the US rather than forcing them to return to Honduras.

The Trump administration hasn’t ended that reprieve just yet. But it’s hinting, strongly, that it’s going to try.

On Monday, President Trump’s Department of Homeland Security announced that it was unable to come to a decision about whether to extend Temporary Protected Status (an immigration program that allows people from a certain country living in the US to remain and work here indefinitely while their home countries recover from disaster) for 57,000 Hondurans. DHS is terminating the protections for 2,500 Nicaraguans as of January 2019.

The Hondurans get six more months of protection (assuming they reregister with US Citizenship and Immigration Services) while the Trump administration makes up its mind. But a senior administration official warned Monday that “given the information available to” Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, “it is possible that the TPS designation for Honduras may be terminated with an appropriate delay at the end of the 6-month period.”

Indeed, the State Department recommended Friday that it push both Honduras and Nicaragua out of the program — along with El Salvador and Haiti.

The four countries together account for about 300,000 people living legally in the US — many of them for decades. The administration will make decisions about their fates over the next few months. And it’s expected to tell all of these people that they’re no longer welcome.

The Trump administration has already made it clear that it wants to send a message that TPS will not protect immigrants indefinitely, and that it wants beneficiaries to start thinking about leaving the United States.

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