Possible New Refugee Crisis?

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - HealthWe hear about the tens of thousands of people fleeing from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. However, one country is missing from the list. So far, no one from Nicaragua is fleeing from the country. For ten years, Nicaragua enjoyed economic growth. The average Nicaraguan did not have to worry about daily necessities, and as long as most Nicaraguans accepted the Sandinista government they were fine. Further, the government prevented gangs and drug lords from taking control of the country which has happened to its neighbors. Also, Nicaragua was fortunate in that it did not suffer from extremely disastrous natural catastrophes.

But this is changing. The Sandinistas have been in power for over ten years. They have held the controls of Nicaragua’s state and local councils for longer than that. Because they are the uncontested power in the country they have basically done what they wanted to do. This has led to abuse of power, corruption and wide scale violations of people’s properties and human rights. The Sandinistas were never known for their democratic principles—they were tolerated by the Nicaraguan people as long as the economy ran well. But now the economy is slowing down, and with this comes discontent and now even outright revolt. This is true especially in young people in the major towns and villages outside the capital of the country Managua.

Violence between pro-Sandinista forces and anti-Sandinista forces have left several hundreds dead and hundreds of others wounded. Many Nicaraguans are beginning to flee the country, and many, many Nicaraguans stand in long lines in many parts of the country to get their passports to legally leave the country. This means that many more will illegally flee the country for who knows where. This means they may also try to flee to the United States. But, the Nicaraguan refugee crisis will be different from the refugee crisis in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. People fleeing from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are trying to escape the criminal gangs that have seized control of their countries. The Nicaraguans will be fleeing actual government repression, which means they can legally under United States law qualify for refugee status. Will this work in America? Maybe not. The U.S. government recently announced that all Nicaraguans living in the United States under the temporary protected status will have to leave in 2019. This announcement, at a time when Nicaragua is becoming unstable, could not be a more unwelcome measure. It will means that 5,300 Nicaraguans under temporary protected status will no long have this protection. Given this, will the United States be prepared for a Nicaraguan refugee crisis?

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