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New Developments for beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status from Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, and Sudan

The Secretary of the United States Department of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for what is called “temporary protected status” (TPS) due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely (ongoing armed conflict such as civil war, environmental disaster such as an earthquake, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions), or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. Eligible individuals without nationality who last resided in the designated country may also be granted TPS.

During a designated period, individuals who are granted TPS or who are found preliminarily eligible for TPS, are not removal from the United States, may obtain an employment authorization, and may be granted travel authorization.

Though TPS does not lead to lawful permanent resident status, or give any other immigration status, registration for TPS does not prohibit individuals 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 the individuals may be eligible.

Individuals from ten countries currently benefit from TPS, including 263,000 Salvadorans, 5300 Nicaraguans, 46,000 Haitians, and 1000 Sudanese.

Since taking office, President Trump has announced his plans to terminate TPS for six countries who currently benefit from the program and make up 98% of TPS recipients.

The Sudanese recipients were set to lose their protections on November 2, 2018 while others were going to lose their status in 2019.

On October 3, 2018, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen issued a preliminary injunction temporarily in the case of Ramos v. Nielsen, 18-cv-01554-EMC (Northern District of California, 2018), blocking the Trump administration from terminating TPS for over 300,000 individuals from Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, and Sudan. Judge Chen ruled that terminating TPS would result in irreparable harm and great hardship for the program’s beneficiaries and their families.

Though the lawsuit was brought on behalf of U.S. citizen children with TPS parents, the preliminary injunction broadly protects all TPS holders from Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, and Sudan. As per Judge Chen, the administration must maintain TPS for those from these four countries while the lawsuit challenging the program’s termination is ongoing.

Citing to President Trump’s public remarks from 2015 through 2018 as evidence, Judge Chen agreed that the Trump administration’s decision to end the TPS program could reflect a racial bias against migrants from non-white countries. He also raised the possibility that the TPS terminations may violate the equal protection guarantee of the United States Constitution if they were “influenced or manipulated” by Trump’s “animus against non-white, non-European immigrants.”

Additional pending lawsuits include Centro Presente v. Trump, in Massachusetts, which challenges TPS terminations for El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti; and Saget v. Trump, in New York, which challenges TPS termination for some 60,000 Haitians.

Stay tuned for further developments and if you need legal advice concerning TPS, consult with an experienced immigration lawyer right away.

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