United States asked to allow Guatemalans to stay on humanitarian grounds after storm

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows an area hit by a mudslide, caused by heavy rains brought by Storm Eta, as the search for victims continue in the buried village of Queja, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala November 8, 2020. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Guatemala on Wednesday requested that the United States allow Guatemalans in the country to remain on humanitarian grounds following the devastation caused by storm Eta last week.

“The Guatemalan government reiterates the necessity that Guatemalans who are currently in the United States can remain, and will not be deported, under this temporary protection mechanism,” Foreign Minister Pedro Brolo wrote in a letter.

Brolo handed U.S. Ambassador William Popp official correspondence in which President Alejandro Giammattei requested so-called temporary protected status (TPS) for its citizens, the statement said.

TPS allows foreigners whose home countries experience a natural disaster, armed conflict or other extraordinary event to remain in the United States and apply for work permits. The status must be renewed periodically by the secretary of homeland security, who can extend it for six- to 18-month intervals.

In Guatemala, the confirmed death toll from Eta stood at 46 and there were 96 missing people, according to CONRED figures.

Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Cynthia Osterman