Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is awarded to nationals of a country that the United States deems it would be inhumane to send them back to their home country. This may be due to a civil unrest, a natural disaster, or other extreme situations. Immigrants with TPS status may stay in the U.S. legally as long as they do not have a criminal record of more than two misdemeanors. About 437,000 people in the U.S. currently have TPS but they can’t get a green card or citizenship or be deported from the U.S.
The Trump administration announced that it would be ending the TPS program. However, on Wednesday, October 3, 2018, US District Judge Edward Chen ordered the Trump administration to temporarily halt its plan to end this special federal immigration program that has allowed hundreds of thousands of immigrants to legally live and work in the U.S. for decades. Judge Chen granted a preliminary injunction stopping the government from terminating TPS for immigrants from Sudan, El Salvador, Haiti, and Nicaragua. Chen ruled that the government must maintain TPS, and employment authorizations for TPS beneficiaries from those countries, while a lawsuit challenging the government’s verdict to abolish their protections continues.
The Department of Homeland Security, which administers TPS, has argued that the program has been wrongly extended for years, and that conditions in those four countries are now suitable for thousands of their residents to return home. But Judge Chen disagrees with the administration and has sided with the plaintiffs. Judge Chen ruled that there is no immediate harm to the federal government if its decision to end TPS is temporarily paused. On the contrary, there would be irreparable harm and great hardship to TPS holders, and the communities in which they live, if they’re forced to leave the country. Over 1,000 TPS recipients from Sudan were set to lose their protections on November 2, 2018, while others were going to lose their status in 2019.
Last week during the hearings, Chen agreed that the Trump administration’s decision to end the program could reflect a racial bias against migrants from non-white nations. Immigrants from 10 nations currently benefit from TPS, including 263,000 Salvadorans, 5,300 Nicaraguans, 46,000 Haitians, and 1,000 Sudanese. Since taking office, President Trump has announced plans to terminate protected status for most who currently benefit from the program. TPS beneficiaries have protested the administration’s plans to end the program for months.
TPS recipients have had 273,00 U.S. born children. TPS is designated to certain counties because of natural disasters, civil war, or as a result of extraordinary circumstances. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reviews each countries TPS every 6-18 months and decides whether to extend the program or cancel it. If TPS is cancelled recipients living in the U.S. must return to their country of origin before a given deadline or they may face deportation. TPS ends when DHS decides it’s safe for people to return to their home country.