The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Thursday that it has extended the TPS status of residents from Nicaragua, Haiti, El Salvador and the Sudan. Temporary protected status is generally given to citizens from foreign countries who have undergone a natural or man-made disasters; it gives them the authority to live in and work in the U.S. until conditions are improved in their home countries. The Trump Administration seeks to scale back the process of granting temporary protected status.
Proponents of the practice say that some people have used TPS, which essentially renews automatically every 18 months, to stay in the country for longer than two decades. By scaling down TPS, which the government has been doing by withholding renewals for particular countries, beneficiaries are forced to find other ways to obtain legal immigration status or else leave the United States.
A California judge shot down the government’s previous attempts to terminate TPS for these four countries, agreeing with plaintiffs who say that the move to end TPS is part of a political agenda. The extension announced on Thursday is part of a move by the DHS to comply with the judge’s ruling. Supporters of TPS say this is a good start, but doesn’t go far enough, since many people from other countries who hold TPS protection are left waiting in limbo.
Around 240,000 TPS holders are covered by this newest extension. For example, an ongoing court case involving 9,000 TPS holders from Nepal and 57,000 from Honduras hangs in the balance.
In March, Democrats in the House will introduce the DREAM Act, which will address both Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) participants and TPS participants. Supporters of the act hope that this new legislation will bring a permanent solution to those who are living in the U.S. under DACA or TPS.
Temporary protected status does not automatically lead to permanent residency. But it is possible through marriage and other familial type relationships for immigrants to become legalized while they are still under the protection of TPS.
A recent decision in the courts in the case of Ramirez v. Brown found that under TPS, the TPS holder is deemed to be in lawful status—a status that satisfies the admission and inspection requirements for the purpose of applying for permanent U.S. residency.
When TPS designation expires, a beneficiary’s immigration status returns to whatever status the person held prior to becoming registered for temporary permanent status, assuming he or she has not been able to become a permanent U.S. resident. With this comes the loss of the right to live in the U.S. legally and to work. It could also lead to deportation.
If you are a TPS holder, it is a good idea to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our Salt Lake City immigration attorney to discuss your TPS status and what paths you might have available to you to become a legal resident of our country. Call us today to meet with our compassionate team and find out what legal options are available to you.