On March 12, 2018, a lawsuit was filed in federal court in San Francisco by representatives of immigrants from four countries, alleging that the end to Temporary Protected Status (TPS) was racially motivated. Immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Sudan filed in the Northern District of California seeking a reinstatement of TPS, or alternatively, a stay that would allow those with minor children of school age to remain until graduation. This is the third suit filed challenging the program’s end. While the decision will take time, these suits could wind up ultimately affecting TPS holders for the better.
TPS Provides Safety
Temporary Protected Status is a status granted by the Department of Homeland Security (formerly by the Attorney General) to nationals of countries deemed to have been affected by natural disasters or war to an extent where the country’s infrastructure has broken down. As of this writing, there are 10 countries whose nationals have TPS—Haiti, El Salvador, Somalia, Nicaragua, Nepal, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Honduras. All these countries have experienced either significant natural disasters, such as the earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal, or periods of civil war or unrest, such as in Somalia or El Salvador.
The status is extended usually during the period of unrest, and for some time afterward. However, the current federal administration has seen fit to cease extending the status of many of these countries’ nationals, most notably El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras. This gives them in some cases mere months to put their affairs in order, with little thought given in most cases to their U.S. citizen children or spouses.
Alternatives are Slim, but Possible
The administration argues that the TPS criteria were narrowed, and as such, certain countries no longer meet the threshold, but the lawsuit alleges that the criteria were narrowed exclusively because of racial stereotypes and discriminatory intent. It will be up to the court to determine whether those allegations have validity; however, in the meantime, the most important factor of which to be aware is that no injunction has been issued that would allow the people affected to remain in the United States, unlike with DACA. This means that alternatives must be sought. Moreover, while there are a few, they will not work in every case.
Most people with TPS will have very little legal recourse, primarily because TPS is not considered a non-immigrant status for legal purposes, and as such, adjusting status is not permitted—by comparison, a person who entered the country on an F1 student visa (also a non-immigrant status) and became engaged might be able to adjust status to that of a lawful permanent resident. However, someone with TPS might be able to apply for what is referred to as cancellation of removal, which is essentially prosecutorial discretion. The standard, however, is quite high, requiring “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to a U.S. citizen qualifying relative in order to be acceptable.
Seek Experienced Legal Help
Until these lawsuits are dismissed, or until an injunction is issued halting TPS revocation, proceeding as though deportation is imminent may be the best option. However, knowledgeable legal advice can make a big difference. The dedicated Chicago deportation defense attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC can sit down with you and try to help you see your options clearly, if nothing else. Contact our offices today to set up a free consultation.
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