TPS In Trump’s Sights?
Earlier this month, DHS announced that the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Nicaragua will terminate in 14 months. This means that Nicaraguans on TPS will have until January 5, 2019 to leave the country, apply for another immigration status, or lose immigration status altogether. It is estimated that this will affect about 2,500 people.
DHS also announced that it is considering termination of TPS for Hondurans but, claiming a lack of definitive information on the subject, the designation will be automatically extended for at least another six months. TPS for Hondurans is currently set to terminate on July 5, 2018. Its termination would affect a much larger group of about 57,000 people.
TPS is a program enacted into law in 1990 that was designed to allow citizens of certain countries affected by natural disasters, armed conflict, or health epidemics to remain in the United States temporarily. TPS designations are made on a country-by-country basis and often last many years due to continuing poor conditions in the country. In the meantime, TPS recipients are eligible to receive work permits, so they are able to support themselves and help their family members back home.
The continuing TPS designations for Haiti and El Salvador are also in question. DHS will announce its decision about whether to extend Haitian TPS by Thanksgiving. Last May, after extending Haiti’s designation only six months, then DHS Secretary John F. Kelly stated, “I believe there are indications that Haiti – if its recovery from the 2010 earthquake continues at pace - may not warrant further TPS extension past January 2018.”
UPDATE: On November 22, 2017 DHS announced that Haiti’s TPS designation would be terminated on July 22, 2019. Some 59,000 Haitians have TPS. So far, no announcement about El Salvador’s designation, which expires March 9, 2018, has been made. There are an estimated 200,000 Salvadoran TPS recipients.
The ESPERER Act
At least some members of Congress are working toward a solution for TPS recipients. A bill called the ESPERER Act was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Carlos Curbelo. This bill would establish a limited path to permanent residency (and later, to citizenship) for certain Nicaraguans, Hondurans, Haitians, and Salvadorans who received TPS prior to January 13, 2011. It would allow these TPS recipients to get a green card without having to leave the United States and without having a family petition for them. It is important to remember that for the ESPERER Act to become law, it would first need to be passed by Congress and signed by the President.
Learn Your Options Now
If you have TPS, Wilson Law Group urges you to speak to an attorney about what your immigration options currently are, before it is too late. TPS recipients are not currently automatically eligible to apply for permanent resident status. If you have a family member who is eligible to file an immigrant petition on your behalf, we remind you that the government takes months to process anything, so it is prudent to file quickly if you currently have that option. Permanent resident status is a stable immigration status that cannot be lost as easily as TPS. In addition, it is the first step towards gaining U.S. Citizenship. Other immigration benefits TPS recipients may potentially be eligible for include asylum, VAWA, and the U visa. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation to learn more.