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Lawmakers request watchdog probe of Trump admin's ending of temporary protected status

Lawmakers request watchdog probe of Trump admin's ending of temporary protected status
© Greg Nash

Several House Democrats released a letter Tuesday calling for the State Department's inspector general to investigate the Trump administration's decision to end temporary protected status (TPS) for residents of Honduras, El Salvador and Haiti.

The lawmakers — Reps. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelState Department sets up new bureau for cybersecurity and emerging technologies How Congress dismissed women's empowerment 2020: A year in photos MORE (D-N.Y.), Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerPelosi names 9 impeachment managers Republicans gauge support for Trump impeachment Clyburn blasts DeVos and Chao for 'running away' from 25th Amendment fight MORE (D-N.Y.), Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroPelosi names 9 impeachment managers Lawmaker to unveil bill ensuring nothing — 'no airport, no highway, no school' — is named after Trump Biden says Cruz, other Republicans responsible for 'big lie' that fueled Capitol mob MORE (D-Texas), Albio SiresAlbio B. SiresCountering China's influence in the Caribbean with a second Caribbean Basin Initiative We can't lose sight of Ortega's abuses in Nicaragua Hispanic Caucus requests meeting with private detention center CEOs MORE (D-N.J.) and Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenLawmakers briefed on 'horrifying,' 'chilling' security threats ahead of inauguration Efforts to secure elections likely to gain ground in Democrat-controlled Congress Capitol Police chief announces resignation after pro-Trump riots MORE (D-Calif.), as well as one member of the Senate, Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezYear-end deal creates American Latino, women's history museums Lawmakers call for including creation of Latino, women's history museums in year-end spending deal Trump offered 0 million to terrorism victims to save Sudan-Israel deal  MORE (D-N.J.) — called on the inspector general to look into why humanitarian protections were ended for refugees from those countries.

TPS allows for those fleeing armed conflict, environmental disaster or other crises to take refuge in the U.S. According to the lawmakers' letter, as many as 400,000 individuals were affected by the Trump administration's rollback of TPS for residents of the three countries.

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“We specifically request that the Office of the Inspector General review the extent to which Trump Administration political appointees in the State Department introduced electoral considerations into the TPS decision-making process,” the lawmakers wrote.

"The Trump Administration favored a predetermined political decision over the collective expertise of the State Department, disregarding the guidance provided by every other relevant office,” they argued.

The letter follows a report released by Menendez's staff, which revealed that American diplomats' findings from the ground in those three countries were ignored in favor of the Trump administration's desire to terminate TPS ahead of the 2020 election.

"Our investigation revealed that in 2017, the Trump administration's political appointees provided Secretary Tillerson with written recommendations to in fact accelerate the termination of TPS, with the 2020 election timeline in mind," Menendez said in November, when the report was released.