Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a U.S. immigration status granted to nationals of certain countries whose conditions are such where it would be unsafe for them to return home, usually because of either armed conflict or natural disasters. The current federal administration has sought to end the benefit for many countries, but on October 4, 2018, the Northern District of California barred the administration from doing so for nationals of El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan. This changes matters for immigrants from those countries, at least for now.
TPS is an immigration benefit first instituted as part of the Immigration Act of 1990. In that piece of legislation, the Attorney General originally, and now the Secretary of Homeland Security, may designate a specific country whose nationals may remain in the U.S. for the term of the benefit since sending them home would be unsafe. Once granted TPS, a person may stay in the U.S. until the benefit is canceled. They can also seek employment authorization, and in some cases, travel authorization with permission to return.
It is important to keep in mind that TPS is a purely humanitarian benefit, and does not give anyone the right to any other type of immigration benefit - adjustment of status is not possible, meaning that if you, for example, want to marry a U.S. citizen, you cannot do so on TPS without also applying for the proper fiance visa. TPS is meant to be temporary, but at the same time, if country conditions have not improved, one should be able to point to this as a reason to remain in the U.S., and for many countries with TPS, conditions at home have simply not improved.
The decision in the Northern District of California definitively, if temporarily, halted the deportation of people whose TPS is set to expire soon or has already expired - TPS for Sudan was slated to end November 2, and the benefit for Nicaraguans had been planned to expire in January 2019. Currently, the ruling prohibits those groups of people from being deported at least until the termination of the lawsuit in California, though it remains to be seen what the ultimate disposition of the case will be. The judge in the case halted deportation on grounds that the loss of TPS was motivated by racial animus rather than any changed country conditions - certainly a plausible assumption, with this administration - but unless it can be proven, very little may happen in the long run.
While it may seem counterproductive, if you are a member of these groups - if you have TPS and you are from Nicaragua, Sudan, El Salvador or Haiti - the important thing to do is continue to plan for a potential deportation, or at least to try and put protections in place for any U.S. citizen children or other family. The current ruling only lasts for the duration of the California suit, and even if it is extended, having plans in place for the worst possible outcome is never a bad idea. Unfortunately, the attacks on immigrants are unlikely to end with the current crop of politicians in charge.
Immigration law is complex, especially TPS, and if you need help navigating filings or even just having questions answered, seeking out an attorney can do a lot for your peace of mind. The skilled Chicago immigration lawyers at Mevorah Law Offices LLC can sit down with you and try to help you determine the best path forward for you and your loved ones. Call us at 630-932-9100 today for a free consultation.
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