Will the Administration, aided by the Courts, Succeed in Ending Temporary Protected Status for Refugees and Immigrants?

By LSSNCA Advocacy Associate, John Murphy

According to Spectrum News, on September 14, 2020 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the President was within his rights to end the “Temporary Protected Status (TPS) “program.  The Court’s decision could allow 330,000 refugees and immigrants to be deported.  Plaintiffs argued that the termination for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador were motivated by racial animus against non-white and non-European immigrants based on numerous statements by President Trump.  The court said that the animus was not proven.” 

This decision overruled a temporary injunction imposed in 2018 by a federal judge in Northern California blocking the ending of TPS.  However, this decision and a separate suit in New York affecting Haitian TPS holders, once issued, will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

TPS Defined

According to the American Immigration Forum’s Fact Sheet on Temporary Protected Status  “… TPS is a temporary status provided to nationals of certain countries experiencing difficulties that make it difficult or unsafe for their nationals to be deported there.

“Congress created the TPS program in the Immigration Act of 1990, and it is intended to support nationals that are confronting an ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or extraordinary and temporary conditions.  It provides an individual a work permit and a stay of deportation to those already in the U.S. at the time the U.S. government makes the determination.  According to the law the Secretary of Homeland Security, upon consultation with other federal agencies, has the authority to make the designation for all or part of a country.  The decision to do so or not is not reviewable by the courts.

“TPS designations are for 6, 12 or 18 months at a time.  Decisions to extend or terminate must be published in the Federal Register at least 60 days in advance of expiration.  If this doesn’t happen the status is automatically extended for 6 months.  Under the act there is no time limit on the designation.

 “In addition to authorizing a work permit and stay of deportation, a TPS designee may also travel abroad and return to the United States.  However, beneficiaries may not receive public assistance,” said the Forum.

Where do TPS Holders Live and What is their Economic Impact?

Besides the disastrous humanitarian aspects to the potential ending of TPS there is an economic aspect as well, according to the National Immigration Forum.  “TPS holders reside all over the United States, with the largest numbers living in California, Florida, Texas, New York and Maryland.  Most TPS holders from El Salvador live in Washington, DC (32,359), Los Angeles (30,415), and New York (23,168), Miami (7,467) and Houston (6,062) metropolitan areas.  Haitian TPS holders live mainly in Miami (6,287), New York (9,402) and Boston (4,302) metropolitan areas

“An estimated 130,000 TPS holders are working as ‘essential critical infrastructure workers’  shoulder to shoulder with Americans during the coronavirus pandemic and helping with our economic recovery in a number of industries including healthcare and food services.  “TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti contribute a combined $4.5 billion in pre-tax wages or salary income annually to our nation’s gross domestic product.  The total Social Security and Medicare contributions from those individuals is estimated at over $6.9 billion over a ten-year span.

“According to a 2017 survey [by the Center for Migration Research at the University of Kansas] of TPS holders from El Salvador and Honduras overall 88.5% are working – 94% of men and 82% of women.  Male TPS holders work mainly in construction/painting while female TPS holders are concentrated in cleaning buildings or houses.”

What Can You Do?

According to an American Friends Service Committee blog, “…Bills have been introduced in Congress that would protect TPS holders.  Last year the House has passed H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act, a bill that would offer a pathway to citizenship for TPS holders.  Please contact you Senators and urge them to pass similar legislation.  Ask your local and state officials to publicly support TPS and pass resolutions. Finally, check out the Interfaith Toolkit to defend TPS and how to advocate for it.” You can also check out the Interfaith Immigration Coalition’s TPS toolkit here.


You can directly support immigrants, refugees, and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders arriving in the DMV by becoming a family co-sponsor through the LSSNCA Good Neighbor Partner (GNP) program, donating household items and furniture to newly-arrived families, and donating directly to our Refugee & Immigrant Services.

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