December 31, 2008 in Nation/World

Deadline passes for immigrants

By Matt O’Brien Contra Costa Times
 

SAN PABLO, Calif. – Thousands of Salvadoran, Nicaraguan and Honduran immigrants could have their permission to live and work in the United States revoked next year after missing a Tuesday immigration deadline.

The deadline was to reapply for Temporary Protected Status, a special path to U.S. residency provided to certain Central Americans following a devastating 1998 hurricane and two back-to-back earthquakes in El Salvador in 2001.

“If they don’t refile, they’re not going to be able to keep on legally working,” said Sharon Rummery, spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

At the end of Friday, about 180,000 of the eligible 229,000 Salvadoran immigrants had applied nationwide, Rummery said. Almost 53,000 of 70,000 eligible Nicaraguans had applied and about 2,300 of 3,500 eligible Hondurans. Those who did not apply in time will likely lose their legal residency in March, making them deportable.

Applications were required to be postmarked by Tuesday, so many are likely to still be on the way.

Congress enacted the special benefit in 1990 as a way of allowing temporary residence to those suffering from national disasters or civil unrest.

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