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Immigration Law Blog

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The Future of Temporary Protected Status

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is granted to individuals from certain countries to remain within the United States of America “due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately.” The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is also able to grant TPS to any eligible national of certain countries who are already in the United States. Individuals without nationality who last resided in the designated country may also be granted TPS. The Secretary of Homeland Security is able to designate the countries in which will fall under the TPS conditions. The Secretary may designate a country for TPS due to: ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war), an environmental disaster (such as an earthquake or hurricane), an epidemic, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. 

Individuals who are TPS beneficiaries or who are found preliminarily eligible for TPS upon initial review of their case: “are not removable from the United States, can obtain an employment authorization document (EAD) and may be granted travel authorization.” A TPS beneficiary cannot be detained by The United States Department of Homeland Security on the basis of his or her immigration status in the United States. Though a TPS beneficiary is protected from being deported this temporary benefit does not mean you will be granted lawful permanent resident status through it. Registration for TPS does not prevent you from: “applying for nonimmigrant status, filing for adjustment of status based on an immigrant petition, or applying for any other immigration benefit or protection for which you may be eligible.”

The countries that are currently designated for TPS according to the USCIS are El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. In order for an individual to be eligible for TPS, he or she must: “be a national of a country designated for TPS, or a person without nationality who last habitually resided in the designated country, file during the open initial registration or re-registration period, or meet the requirements for late initial filing during any extension of his or her country’s TPS designation, have been continuously physically present in the United States since the effective date of the most recent designation date of his or her country, and have been continuously residing in the United States since the date specified for his or her country.” 

To date, in the United States there are approximately 325,000 individuals who have been granted TPS. Even though previous administrations have worked to renew TPS, the Trump administrations have tried to end the program. The courts have made an effort in temporarily blocking the Trump administration from ending the program. The Trump administrations justification for ending TPS comes from their understanding that the conditions in the list of designated countries have improved enough for its nationals to return to their countries. Many TPS beneficiaries claim that that is not the case. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, attended a march for TPS justice rally in Washington on February 12, 2019. She stated that, “From Nepal to Honduras, we made a promise that we were going to be a safe haven…We need to make sure that, as a nation, we honor our promises.” It is uncertain what will become of TPS and its beneficiaries in the weeks to come. One thing is certain. If the Trump administration does successfully end TPS that means more families will be separated from their loved ones. If you have any questions or concerns regarding Temporary Protected Status (TPS) please feel free to contact an immigration attorney. 

Mercedes Riggs