USA (MNN) – There have been many changes for immigrants and asylum-seekers in the United States, and now, there’s another.
“Along with some other countries, the administration is ending the temporary status for Nicaraguans,” Bethany Christian Services’ Bruce Mossburg says.
Protests and Violence in Nicaragua
In Nicaragua, “there are some uprisings, there’s some conflict that may be leading to civil war. The Trump Administration has sanctioned the Nicaraguan government for human rights abuses.”
Tensions have been building in Nicaragua for years due to President Daniel Ortega’s manipulation to continue holding power.
But when the government announced cuts to the social security benefits, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Protests and rioting started breaking out in Nicaragua in April 2018
While students and citizens with pensions started peaceful protests, security forces violently attacked them. Since April, at least 322 Nicaraguans have been killed.
Now, The Week reported, paramilitaries are detaining citizens every day. Citizens have been tortured after being accused of terrorism, organized crime, possession of weapons, and other crimes.
The violence has heightened so dramatically that the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said Nicaragua is traveling down the same path as Syria.
Like Syria, Nicaragua’s citizens have already started fleeing their nation and requesting asylum in other countries.
Fleeing to Costa Rica
Costa Rica has seen a massive influx of asylum requests from Nicaraguans. The Washington Post reports that 24,400 Nicaraguans are intending to apply for asylum in Costa Rica this year. Last year, from January to August, only 58 Nicaraguans applied for asylum in Costa Rica.
Many who intend to apply for asylum are already living in Costa Rica. However, last month, NPR reported that 200 Nicaraguans are seeking asylum every day in Costa Rica and tens of thousands of Nicaraguans have already fled to Costa Rica over the past few months.
“There’s been over the years, a lot of Nicaraguans that have fled to Costa Rica, but this influx is, of course, not typical,” Mossburg says. “I think it’s overwhelming Costa Rica’s infrastructure as well. It’s difficult for them.”
Mossburg says as the U.S. is ending temporary status for Nicaraguans, it doesn’t seem there will be any change or decrease in those fleeing to Costa Rica. Instead, it looks like the small nation will continue receiving waves of refugees.
CNN reports that on January 5, about 5,300 Nicaraguans living in the U.S. will lose their protected status.
They’ll either be forced to return home or become refugees.
“A lot of them are targeted. A lot of them are afraid to go back because [of the] instability,” Mossburg says. “So, a lot of them feel like it would be risking their lives to go back.”
Further, many of these Nicaraguans have lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years. They’ve built up their lives. They have jobs, houses, and started families.
“Many of them have since had children. Actually, with all the TPS [Temporary Protected Status] grantees, there are about 250,000 children that have, in this country, that have at least one parent that’s somebody that has TPS… People will have to make decisions about what to do with their families, and I think folks will have to leave families behind potentially.”
Mossburg says Bethany believes welcoming refugees is biblical and a large part of their ministry is preserving families.
“We really believe in the integrity of the family and protecting families, but that’s our focus. I think in this instance, this will be tearing families apart.”
TPS for Nicaraguans has been extended by every president since 1999 when Hurricane Mitch devastated the nation.
Bethany asks for your prayer now for humanitarian immigration reform. Pray for the families that could be split. Pray for wisdom of the U.S., Nicaraguan, and Costa Rican governments.