U.S. presidents since Dwight Eisenhower have granted ‘temporary protection’ to foreign nationals in the United States who are unable to return to their home countries because of extraordinary circumstances, such as war or natural disaster. In 1990, Congress codified this practice by creating Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
Now the Trump administration is considering ending TPS as a way to decrease the number of legal immigrants. This would affect approximately 325,000 people in the United States.
TPS provides a work permit and reprieve from deportation for 6 to 18 months (and can be extended) to immigrants from some countries recovering from violent conflicts, natural disasters, or epidemics. According to the Congressional Research Service, the largest group of TPS recipients is from El Salvador (195,000), followed by Honduras (57,000) and Haiti (50,000).
When the U.S. Department of Homeland Security extended TPS benefits for Haitians by six months in May, federal officials noted that the extension was meant to give the Haitians enough time to leave the country and for the Caribbean nation to receive them. With a deadline of January 22 looming and no signals from federal officials that TPS would be extended again (though it could be), thousands of Haitians have reportedly walked across the border to Canada to seek asylum there.
Many TPS recipients from other countries are fearful that the Trump administration may allow their status to expire as well, without consideration of the current conditions and dangers they would face if sent back to their home countries. The current expiration date for TPS for Hondurans is January 5 and for El Salvadorans, it is March 9.
Watch this video of immigrants talking about the importance of saving TPS, produced by Centro Presente.
A report from the Center for Migration Studies, an educational institute in New York that was founded by the Scalabrinian Missionaries, describes the TPS recipients from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti. The report includes ample evidence of hardworking people with strong family and other ties to the United States. High percentages have lived in the United States for 20 years or more, participate in the labor force at a much higher rate than the total U.S. population , speak English well, arrived as children, and have children who were born in the U.S. and thus are U.S. citizens.
The TPS recipients from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti make significant economic contributions by maintaining home mortgages, paying taxes, and working in industries crucial to the economy, such as construction, child care and health care. After many years of uncertainty, these vulnerable people should be afforded the right to stay where they are most safe, most able to maintain strong family ties, and where they are making the greatest contributions to society.