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Hirono denounces removal of protected status for Nepalese

Nina Wu
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Nepalese women stood in front of the portraits of people who died in the 2015 earthquake during Wednesday’s function to mark the third anniversary of earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal.

U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono on Thursday denounced the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to terminate Temporary Protected Status for Nepalese nationals living in the United States.

Nepalese nationals were granted the status following a devastating, 7.8 magnitude earthquake in April 2015 that killed thousands, leaving thousands more displaced and homeless.

On Thursday, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced the termination of the TPS designation for Nepal, but delayed it for another year to “allow for an orderly transition.” The temporary protected status for approximately 9,000 Nepalese nationals in the U.S. expires on June 24, 2019.

“The devastating damage in Nepal and the challenges its government faces to rebuild clearly meet the definition of ‘extraordinary circumstance’ required to extend Temporary Protected Status to Nepalese nationals,” Hirono said in a news release. “Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen’s decision to terminate Nepal’s TPS designation is another heartless example of Secretary Nielsen’s attacks on immigrants and vulnerable communities.”

Nielsen, however, said the department had determined conditions in Nepal have notably improved, and that it has made substantial progress in post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction.

Last week, Hirono took the lead in sending a letter, along with 22 other Senate Democrats, to acting Secretary of State John Sullivan and Nielsen, calling for the extension of TPS for Nepalese nationals, saying it would help the Nepalese government focus limited resources on rebuilding efforts and prevent individuals from being returned to unsafe conditions.

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