Legal Status Extended For Some

New Mexico – The federal government has decided it will allow people from Nicaragua and Honduras to stay another 18 months in the U.S. with temporary legal status.

The temporary protected status granted people from thosse Central American countries who were in the U.S. before Dec. 30, 1998, was due to expire July 5, 2010. The new expiration date is Jan. 5, 2012. The temporary legal status has been extended repeatedly since Hurricane Mitch devastated the region in 1998.

The administration says Nicaragua and Honduras continue to recover from Hurricane Mitch preventing them from adequately handling the return of their citizens.

The Homeland Security Department has estimated 66,000 people from Honduras and 3,000 from Nicaragua are eligble.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.